McDonald's ( MCD)expects first-quarter earnings to beat analysts' consensus expectations as global systemwide sales rose 17.5% in the period.The company is anticipating first-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, which would be a 38% increase over year-ago earnings of 29 cents a share, before the effect of an accounting change. Analysts were expecting 37 cents a share in the quarter. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast-food giant will report earnings April 27. Nevertheless, after having dropped 75 cents, or 2.6%, to $28.27 in regular Tuesday trading, shares of McDonald's were lately falling 72 cents, or 2.6%, to $27.55 in the after-hours session. The company also said in a Tuesday press release that same-restaurant sales rose 5% last month, while global systemwide sales rose 11.5%. On a constant currencies basis, global systemwide sales increased 5.8% in the month and 10.3% for the quarter. Same-restaurant sales in the company's U.S. business increased 9.9% in March and 14.2% for the first quarter. In Europe, same-restaurant sales dropped 2.9% in March but increased 3.5% in the quarter. McDonald's said the months ahead will prove challenging but that it plans "to focus on the winning combination of improved service, better tasting and more relevant food, affordable menu options, and extended hours of service."