Faster Food: McDonald's Sees More Sales Growth

McDonald's Corp. (MCD) Thursday said sales at hamburger restaurants open at least 13 months rose 5.3 percent in March and forecast first-quarter earnings in line with analysts' estimates.

Three Wall Street analysts had expected a March same-store sales rise of 2.3 percent to 4 percent, according to research notes.

New menu items continued to help drive sales increases at the world's largest restaurant chain. U.S. sales were helped by the company's new premium roast coffee, which attracted more breakfast customers, the company said.

McDonald's said first-quarter earnings would be about 49 cents a share, matching the average estimate among analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

Same-store sales rose 6.6 percent in the United States and 1.6 percent in Europe, McDonald's said. Analysts had forecast a rise of 3.4 percent to 4 percent in the United States and a drop of 1 percent to a rise of 5.4 percent in Europe.

Sales in Europe were led by Russia and France. The increase in Europe came despite bad weather and the shift of Easter and school-related holidays to April from March, McDonald's said in a news release.

In Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, comparable sales for March were up 5 percent, the company said.

McDonald's shares traded at $35.31 on Thursday morning on the Inet electronic broker system, up from Wednesday's New York Stock Exchange close of $35.19.