McDonald's Corp. said Tuesday that a key revenue figure rose 5.5 percent in October, fueled by sales in China and other foreign markets and the popularity of its Monopoly game in the U.S.
Revenue at stores open at least 13 months rose 5.2 percent in the U.S., 4.8 percent in Europe and 6.1 percent in the region covering Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.
The results in all regions beat analysts' expectations, said Sara Senatore, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.
The revenue figure is a snapshot of money spent on food at both company-owned and franchised restaurants. It does not reflect corporate revenue. It is a key measure of a restaurant chain's performance, because it excludes the impact of recently opened or closed stores.
The world's largest burger chain has fared well in the recession and its aftermath, by reshaping itself as a hip, healthier place to eat. It has remodeled stores, installed wireless access and added fancy coffee drinks to the menu to try to appeal to customers who might normally go to Starbucks. It has added items like smoothies and oatmeal meant to appeal to healthier eaters. And it has continued to promote itself as a cheap place to get a meal.
Other fast-food chains have been copying the much-larger McDonald's, trying to replicate its success.
France, Russia and the U.K. led revenue gains in Europe. Australia, China and Japan drove revenue in the area covering Asia/Pacific.
Like many companies, McDonald's is focusing on overseas markets as the U.S. economy continues to struggle. The U.S. accounts for about 31 percent of McDonald's total revenue. Europe is its largest market.
Senatore said customers in China are attracted to McDonald's low prices: "Value continues to resonate with consumers in the high inflation environment," she wrote in a note to clients.
McDonald's has also been successful at pushing higher prices on to customers, said Jefferies analyst Andy Barish. The company has raised menu prices twice this year to make up for the higher costs it's paying for beef, fuel and other materials.
Shares fell 2 cents Tuesday to close at $94.60.