All The World's A Mc Stage

NOTHING IS MORE AMERICAN than McDonald's, right? Well, think again. Last year, recently released financial reports show, the chain's operating revenues from foreign sales passed 50% of the total. Analysts' prediction for decade's end: 60%.

Mickey D's gets more sales from overseas than any other U.S. fast-food chain, though Pizza Hut and KFC have also pushed abroad. The Golden Arches can be found in 79 nations. Having all but saturated America, the company is opening two foreign stores for every new U.S. outlet. After all, the appeal of this bite of American culture is strong: When McDonald's opened in Kuwait City last year, the line of cars at

its drive-through window stretched seven miles.

While standardization built the company, McDonald's has wisely taken a flexible approach abroad. In places where local markets are tough for Americans to read, it works with joint-venture partners (the Far East) or licenses its name without putting up equity capital (the Mideast). While the menus look mostly the same all over, the company bows to local customs. Outlets set to open in India next year will likely sell veggie burgers instead of beef. Even in the hamburger biz, some cows are sacred.

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