McDonald's ( MCD) reported a systemwide same-store sales gain of 4.9% last month, extending its period of gangbuster restaurant performance to nearly two years. The fast-food chain, which reported the death of former CEO Charlie Bell over the weekend, said U.S. same-store sales rose 6.9% in December compared with a year earlier. Both the domestic and global results were well ahead of Wall Street forecasts. For all of 2004, comparable-restaurant sales rose 9.6% from the previous year, the best growth in 30 years. McDonald's posted same-restaurant sales growth in each month of the year, a testament to the turnaround talents of both Bell and Jim Catalupo, another former CEO who died in April. "Our global results for December were fueled by the performance of our U.S. business, which continues to reflect the combined strength of our strategic service, menu and marketing initiatives," the company said in a release. "In Europe, December comparable sales rose 2.2%, driven by performance in the U.K. and France." After bottoming in the low teens in the spring of 2003, McDonald's stock has more than doubled, closing Tuesday at $31.60.