McDonald's Corp. (MCD), the world's largest fast-food company, on Thursday said quarterly earnings rose 25 percent, as the expansion of meal-sized salads in Europe and other promotions led to its best sales growth in the period since 1987.

McDonald's, which disclosed preliminary earnings results last week, said net income increased to $591 million, or 47 cents a share, from $471 million, or 37 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Before the company released preliminary earnings, analysts on average had been expecting profit of 44 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue increased 10 percent to $4.7 billion, with systemwide sales growing 11 percent.

The company said it plans to invest $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion in 2004 and to reduce its debt by $500 million to $700 million.

Shares of McDonald's closed at $27.66 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.