McDonald's Finds Strength Overseas

OAK BROOK, Ill. ( TheStreet) -- McDonald's ( MCD) reported strong January same-store sales on strength in China and Europe.

McDonald's said comparable same-store sales -- or sales at stores open at least one year, a key metric in the restaurant industry -- jumped 3.1% in the U.S. in January. Comps in Europe surged 7% while same-store sales in McDonald's Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region rose 5.2%.

Systemwide sales in January increased 7.4%, or 6.7% in constant currencies, McDonald's said Tuesday.

McDonald's said U.S. strength reflected the brand's everyday accessibility to American consumers, including its beverage lineup of products like its McCafe premium hot chocolate and Caramel Mochas, the popularity of Chicken McNuggets, and the nationwide launch of Fruit & Maple Oatmeal.

European strength was led by demand for McDonald's products in Germany, the U.K., France and Russia, where its breakfast and drive-through services were popular.

McDonald's said improved results the APMEA region were driven by positive results in China, Japan and Australia, where customers enjoyed locally-relevant menu items.

Better-than-expected January comps led investors to bid McDonald's shares 3.3% higher to $75.86 in morning trading Tuesday.

In its recent quarter, McDonald's reported that global comps increased 5% , including 4.4% growth in the U.S., 3.4% in Europe and 5.5% in APMEA.

"In 2011, we plan to invest about $2.5 billion of capital -- roughly half dedicated to opening approximately 1,100 new McDonald's restaurants and the other half allocated to investing in our existing locations, including reimaging," CEO Jim Skinner said when its earnings were released late last month.

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