Securities analysts predict that McDonald’s impending national rollout of Mighty Wings could boost same-store sales.

McDonald’s Corp. spokeswoman Lisa McComb confirmed that Mighty Wings, miniature chicken wings or drums that are lightly breaded and fried, will debut nationwide at most locations on Sept. 9 and will be available systemwide by Sept. 24. The limited-time offer will be available through November.

McDonald’s last tested Mighty Wings in Chicago in January 2013 and in Atlanta on two occasions.

“We view the introduction of Mighty Wings as a meaningful catalyst for comps,” Lynne Collier of Sterne Agee wrote in a research note. “Based on our channel checks, we believe that Mighty Wings performed very well in test and drove the average check.”

McComb confirmed that McDonald’s would sell Mighty Wings in orders of three, five and 10 pieces, starting at $2.99. In its Chicago-area test last winter, the three-, five- and 10-piece orders sold for $2.99, $4.79 and $8.99, respectively. An Extra Value Meal with five Mighty Wings cost $6.99 during that test.

Securities analysts were first tipped off to Mighty Wings’ rollout when reports cited the Facebook page of a Missouri-based owner-operator that posted a message about new products to be sold in the near future, including a Pralines and Crème McFlurry, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Pumpkin Pies, and a Southwest Premium McWrap. McDonald’s would not confirm the existence or timing of other menu items rumored to launch this fall.

As September wraps up McDonald’s third quarter, the company’s same-store sales face notable comparisons to the prior quarter, as well as to a year earlier, when the chain’s sales in the United States and around the world began to falter in the face of a weak global economy.

The chain’s domestic same-store sales gain of 1 percent in the second quarter accounted for all the growth in its 1-percent worldwide increase in comparable sales, offsetting slightly negative results in Europe and Asia.

The company credited several new menu items released over the springtime months for helping domestic sales, including Premium McWraps, Blueberry Pomegranate Real Fruit Smoothie, Egg White Delight and three new varieties of Quarter Pounders. McDonald’s supported those new items in July by featuring them in its Monopoly promotion, which was moved up from its usual promotion time of October. The company said the promotion helped drive a 1.6-percent gain in monthly same-store sales that again offset decreases in Europe and Asia.

However, officials for the brand said during the second-quarter earnings call that the chain would be “challenged” by an informal-eating-out market that is not projected to grow for the remainder of 2013. This led securities analysts to note that quick-service rival Wendy’s could put even more pressure on McDonald’s with its premium Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, which could help grow Wendy’s sales, possibly at the expense of McDonald’s.

McDonald’s responded at the time that pushing the Monopoly game to July from October might create an opportunity for a new menu item or platform in the fourth quarter to meaningfully build revenue, though they did not hint about Mighty Wings or any other product being that sales driver.

The chain has recently been lapping the first signs of trouble that appeared in late summer and early fall of 2012. Global same-store sales were flat in July 2012, including a 0.1-percent decrease in the United States, which widened to a 2.2-percent decline in the United States in October 2012. The 1.8-percent decrease in global same-store sales in October 2012 was McDonald’s first global decline in monthly comparable sales in more than nine years.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s operates or franchises more than 14,000 restaurants in the United States, and more than 34,000 restaurants worldwide.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN