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McDonald's May Make This Major Menu Announcement

That fried chicken sandwich you've been hearing about? It could be rolling out nationwide soon.
McDonald's takeout

It's been a rough year for many American businesses, but it's proven to be something of a boon for at least one of them: McDonald's.

Industry analysts have routinely noted that the fast-food giant has adroitly navigated the uncertain waters of the coronavirus pandemic fairly well. Breakfast sales and in-store sales (obviously) sputtered, but McDonald's innovated in a few key areas fairly quickly, and experienced a much-needed lift in online ordering, app order sales, and its crucial drive-thru business. Overall, its same-store sales have risen by almost 5 percent in the last quarter, and a new survey of its franchisees reveals that those operating McDonald's restaurants nationwide are feeling more bullish about the future than they have in recent years. On the whole, McDonald's stock is up 6 percent this year.

In light of this success, analysts and experts will all be paying extra close attention to the company's much-awaited investment meeting tomorrow, when McDonald's will offer a  sneak peak at how it plans to take advantage of the momentum and expand their growth in digital sales, new tech, and even new restaurants. (Related: Don't miss how McDonald's Is Adding This New Menu Item for the First Time in 30 Years.)

But as it pertains to its all-important menu, investors are predicting that the fast-food franchise will announce that it will start rolling out its hotly anticipated new premium chicken sandwich nationwide, firmly establishing its presence in today's heated fast-food chicken sandwich war being waged by Chick-Fil-A, Popeyes, and KFC.

Christopher Carril, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, told CNBC that the new McDonald's chicken sandwich is a "potentially significant opportunity," noting that Popeyes' addition of a chicken sandwich spurred double-digit growth in 2020.

Of course, McDonald's has sold various types of chicken sandwiches for a long time, and in some key markets they've been testing two new premium chicken sandwiches— versions of a new crispy fried-chicken sandwich—since last December. Though McDonald's hasn't had the supply chain set up to launch their premium chicken sandwich nationwide yet, observers expect that to be addressed on the investor call. It's not clear if the new chicken sandwich will be one of the ones they've been testing.

It's not the first time that experts have surmised that a new chicken sandwich is coming to McD's. "We expect to see the new line of chicken sandwiches introduced in the fourth quarter of 2020," wrote the research firm Gordon Haskett in July of this year. In a leaked email from earlier this year, franchisees were imploring the fast-food giant to "stay focused" on developing a competitive chicken sandwich.

For his part, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski has referenced big changes to the fast-food giant's future menu. "I do know that there is innovation that is planned for later this year that's going to bring some menu items on," he noted on an investor call during the summer. And if you can't get enough McDonald's, be sure to take a walk down memory lane by reading up on What McDonald's Served the Year You Were Born.

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