McDonald's Corp reported quarterly profit on Wednesday that beat analysts' forecasts as its U.S. business picked up in March and global sales were keeping up their momentum in April.
Shares of the world's largest fast-food chain edged up 0.5 percent as it also said global sales at established restaurants rose 4.2 percent for the quarter, which ended March 31, and 5.2 percent in March.
McDonald's Chief Executive Jim Skinner said that so far, same-store sales in April were trending at least as strong as first-quarter sales. In the United States, where quarterly same-store sales rose 1.5 percent, results got a boost from its coffee and other beverages.
Sales at U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months rose 4.2 percent in March, while same-store sales in Europe rose 5.9 percent and the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa region reported a rise of 2.8 percent.
First-quarter profit was $1.09 billion, or $1.00 per share, up from $979.5 million, or 87 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding a tax charge related to restaurant closings in Japan, McDonald's earned $1.03 a share. On that basis, analysts' average forecast had called for a profit of 96 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
McDonald's, which is based in Oak Brook, Illinois, got a lift as company-operated restaurant expense rose more slowly than revenues, sending its operating margins up 2.2 percentage points to 29.8 percent of sales.
Revenue, which includes sales from company-owned restaurants plus royalties from franchisees and other fees, rose 10.5 percent to $5.61 billion, above analysts' forecasts of $5.52 billion.
Revenue gains of 13 percent at its franchised restaurants, which account for 81.2 percent of its stores, outpaced the 9 percent increase in revenues at McDonald's-owned restaurants.
Shares of McDonald's were up 36 cents in premarket trading from a closing price of $70.34 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York, with additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dave Zimmerman)