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McDonald's 'Plays on Strengths' to Beat Earnings Estimates

McDonald's famous french fries.
Charles Rex Arbogast
McDonald's famous french fries.

David Palmer, senior restaurant analyst at UBS, told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that McDonald’s rode its solid brand name and competitive positioning to strong first quarter earnings.

The world’s largest restaurant chain reported first quarter 2007 earnings of 62 cents a share, beating the consensus estimate by five cents.

“The management is very good,” Palmer said Friday. “These guys are gaining market share rapidly in the U.S. and Europe – and there’s nothing special going on in terms of the industry.”

McDonald’s said company-wide comparable store sales, or sales at restaurants open at least a year, rose 8.2% in March and 6.3% in the first quarter. In the U.S., comparable store sales increased 6.2% for March and 4.4% in the first quarter. Europe’s comparable sales increased 11.2% in March and 8% in the first quarter.

Palmer said McDonald’s isn’t immune from rising gas prices, which would suggest people would stay home and eat out less, but the company has deftly marketed its value offerings and dollar menu.

“Clearly, they’re playing into their strengths,” Palmer said. “They’re promoting the brand well, promoting value well, promoting breakfast well and developing new kitchen systems in Europe to roll out chicken,” he said.

McDonald’s competitors include Burger King and Wendy’s .