April same-store sales rose 6.1 percent in the United States, helped by new coffee drinks and chicken snack wraps.
Shares of McDonald's, one of the restaurant industry's top performers due in large measure to its Dollar Menu, rose more than 3 percent in Friday morning trade.
April trends confirm that McDonald's is pulling away from the pack in terms of sales momentum, UBS analyst David Palmer said in a research note. By the end of 2009, we believe that is also likely to be true for EPS growth as well.
Last month, McDonald's posted a 3.5 percent increase in first-quarter profit that was just ahead of analysts' expectations.
Fast-food restaurants generally have held up better in the recession than higher-priced sit-down restaurants.
But even fast-food sellers have not been immune to the impact of the downturn. The U.S. fast-food industry saw its first quarterly traffic decline since 2003 in the quarter ended in February, according to market research company NPD Group.
The stronger dollar, which lessens the dollar-value of sales made overseas, led to an overall 1 percent decline at worldwide McDonald's restaurants, the company said. Sales rose 8.9 percent in constant currencies.
Same-store sales rose 8.4 percent in Europe, helped by the shift of the Easter holiday to April from March, while same-store sales in the company's Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa segment rose 6.5 percent.
McDonald's shares were up $1.69, or 3.2 percent, at $55.08 on the New York Stock Exchange. Rival Burger King Holdings Inc
On Thursday, Wendy's/Arby's said first-quarter sales at established North American restaurants rose 1 percent at Wendy's and fell 8.7 percent at Arby's.
(Reporting by Brad Dorfman and Lisa Baertlein, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Derek Caney)