By Dow Jones Business News, March 13, 2013, 04:12:00 PM EDT
By Annie Gasparro
McDonald's Corp. ( MCD ) is coming out with an egg-white McMuffin, as part of its plan to put more emphasis on its
breakfast menu this year.
McDonald's has long dominated the fast-food breakfast market in the U.S., and is hoping to take advantage of health-
focused trends and improve profit margins with its newest addition to the menu.
"This year you'll see additional energy at breakfast," McDonald's Chief Executive Don Thompson said at a conference
Wednesday. "We have a good share of breakfast around the U.S. We've just got to go back" to innovation.
Rivals like Wendy's Co. ( WEN ) and Burger King Worldwide Inc. ( BKW ) have followed McDonald's lead in a lot of ways,
especially in trying to capture more breakfast sales. But they haven't been able to catch up to the iconic Egg McMuffin.
"Breakfast actually was fairly solid for us in 2012," Mr. Thompson said. "Also, if the economy does improve, breakfast
is one of those day parts...where we typically will see it first."
McDonald's new Egg White Delight McMuffin, which will go on sale in all U.S. locations next month, is lower in
calories and fat than its traditional counterpart. Adding a yolk-free patty to its ingredient list opens up the
potential for McDonald's to invent healthy alternatives to other breakfast items, as well.
McDonald's has been adding more health-focused items to its menu for the past few years, in response to goverment
regulations and pressure for Americans to cut back on the calories they consume.
"We think we do have a menu that is fairly balanced, we can continue to do more and we will," Mr. Thompson said.
McDonald's has come out with fresher salads and smoothies, as well as other breakfast items like oatmeals and fruit
parfaits, which tend to be more profitable than its Dollar Menu.
Fast-food chains have found they can charge a premium for menu items that cater to health-conscious consumers,
generating a stronger profit margin than on value-oriented products. As McDonald's becomes more aggressive this year in
advertising its Dollar Menu, adding more premium products could help offset the impact on its restaurant margins.
McDonald's on Friday said its U.S. sales trends showed signs of a comeback in February, after the sluggish economy
took a hit to its customer traffic in previous months. The company's shares have risen 13% so far this year, recently
trading at $99.44.
Write to Annie Gasparro at email@example.com
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