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A customer grabs lunch at a McDonalds drive-through in Chicago. (M. Spencer Green/AP)
A customer grabs lunch at a McDonalds drive-through in Chicago. (M. Spencer Green/AP)

McDonald's profit rises, helped by U.S. sales gain Add to ...

McDonald’s Corp. reported higher quarterly profit on Friday, paced by strong sales at established restaurants in the United States and Europe.

Quarterly sales at restaurants open at least 13 months were up 7.3 per cent, more than the 6.7 per cent increase expected by analysts polled by Consensus Metrix. Comparable sales rose 8.9 per cent in the United States and 5 per cent in Europe.

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Companywide, the restaurant chain expects the momentum to continue in April, forecasting comparable sales will be up 4 per cent for the month.

A difficult economy in Europe, the company’s biggest market, had raised concerns that McDonald’s patrons might pull back.

“People have been most concerned about Europe and it looks like it’s OK,” said Sara Senatore, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

In Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, comparable sales were up 5.5 per cent.

Net income at the world’s biggest fast-food chain rose to $1.27-billion (U.S.), or $1.23 per share, during the first quarter, up from $1.21-billion, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier. That was in line with analysts’ average forecast, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 7 per cent to $6.55-billion. Analysts on average had forecast $6.54-billion.

The results, boosted by new menu items, restaurant makeovers and longer operating hours, helped McDonald’s continue to outpace rivals like Wendy’s Co. and Burger King Corp.

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