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OAK BROOK, IL-With international growth outpacing a sluggish United States, McDonald’s Corp. will open 1,000 new units worldwide this year, and roll out its specialty coffees, executives said at the company’s fourth quarter conference call.

With store closures, the company expects net new unit growth to increase its typical 1% to 2%, said CEO Jim Skinner.

“Globally, eating outside the home continues to be a growing opportunity,” Skinner said.

Russia will be a particular focus, with 40 new units to open on a base of more than 200 restaurants. The Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa division, which saw an 11.4% comp increase in the last quarter, will add 125 units. Units in the United Kingdom and Germany are being renovated.

Meanwhile, U.S. consumers will see specialty coffees introduced throughout the chain during the first quarter. It will be the first step in a rollout of other specialty beverages, including smoothies.

“We’re excited to grow our share in the $60 billion beverage category,” Skinner said.

For the quarter, revenues were $5.8 billion. Global comparable sales increased 6.7%, though U.S. comps rose 4.5%. Net income was $1.3 billion, up 3% from the previous year. For the year, revenues were a record-high $22.8 billion. Comparable sales rose 6.8%. Net income was $2.4 billion.

December comps were weak more because of weather, Skinner noted, than economic softness.

“Historically, McDonald’s has not been as affected [by economic downturns] because of our everyday affordability,” Skinner said.

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