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third-quarter earnings rose 42% from a year ago, reflecting cost controls and steadily climbing restaurant sales.

The results, a further affirmation of the blueprint devised by late CEO Jim Cantalupo, were previewed in an earnings preannouncement last week.

The fast-food chain earned $778.4 million, or 61 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with earnings of $547.4 million, or 43 cents a share, last year. The latest quarter included a gain of 7 cents a share related to taxes.

Revenue rose 9% from a year ago to $4.93 billion. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 61 cents a share on revenue of $4.84 billion in the 2004 quarter.

In constant currency, McDonald's third-quarter revenue rose 6%, while comparable-restaurant sales rose 5.8% from a year ago. Overall margins rose 40 basis points from a year ago at both company-owned and franchised restaurants, while operating income rose 10% in constant currency to $1.1 billion.

"From a financial perspective, 2004 is shaping up to be a good year for McDonald's," the company said. "Despite our success, we are not satisfied. There is still much work to be done. We will stay focused on enhancing every element of the McDonald's brand experience as we strive to become our customers' favorite place and way to eat."