McDonald's said Monday sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 11.7 percent globally in February on strong U.S. coffee sales and new sandwich offerings in Europe, sending shares up nearly 4 percent.
Despite a slowdown in consumer spending and rising food prices, the world's largest fast-food chain said same-store sales, a key gauge of retail health, rose 8.3 percent in the United States.
"McDonald's is extremely well positioned relative to the competition. It's a strong brand name, very closely tied to value," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois, which owns McDonald's stock. "And their strong food distribution system guarantees not just quality. but also gives them pricing power."
European same-store sales rose 15.4 percent. The Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa division posted comparable sales growth of 10.9 percent.
The results included a 4 percentage point boost from the leap year, which added an extra day to February sales.
Many analysts and investors were expecting much softer U.S. same-store sales growth of 1 percent to 2 percent in February, excluding the impact of the additional day in February.
McDonald's "had an unexpectedly weak number in December.
Maybe some people figured they had reached their peak, but McDonald's said it was an aberration," Jankovskis said. "It looks like McDonald's was right."
McDonald's January same-store sales grew 1.9 percent in the United States, 8.2 percent in Europe and 7.8 percent in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa unit. Overall, same-store sales were up 5.7 percent during the month.
Investors, who were cautious following the company's report of flat comparable U.S. sales in December, breathed a sigh of relief and sparked a rally in the hamburger chain's shares when the January results were issued Feb. 8.
McDonald's shares were up 3.4 percent at $54.05 on the New York Stock exchange and were the best-performing component of the Dow Jones industrial average.