McDonald's ( MCD) reported lower first-quarter earnings, but the results were in line with analysts' expectations, as concerns about the safety of beef in Europe and weaker economies in certain areas of the world dragged down the bottom line.

The company also said it was "cautiously optimistic" about the second half of 2001.

The fast-food giant, which is based in Oak Brook, Ill., said first-quarter earnings totaled $378.3 million, or 29 cents a share, down from $450.9 million, or 33 cents a share, in the same period last year. Fifteen analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call expected earnings of 29 cents a share for the quarter.

Revenue for the quarter rose to $3.51 billion from $3.34 billion, while systemwide sales increased to $9.65 billion, up from $9.51 billion a year ago.

"Based on our expectation for improved business trends, particularly in the second half of the year, we expect 2001 annual earnings per share growth in constant currencies to be within our previously stated 6% to 10% range," the company said in a prepared statement. Analysts on average expect 2001 earnings of $1.52 a share, up from $1.46 a share in 2000.

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