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McDonald's Corporation (MCD - Free Analyst Report), the iconic hamburger chain, has reported third-quarter results. Earnings were $1.29 a share, a few pennies higher than our $1.25 estimate and up 12% year to year. Solid margins and a 4% increase in overall sales (versus our forecast of a 3% advance) helped deliver the earnings gain.

Moreover, comparable-store sales were strong in the September period, jumping 6.0% on a global basis. Geographically, comps climbed 5.3% in the United States, 4.1% in Europe, and 8.1% in the region comprised of Asia/Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.

At home, sales were driven by the nationwide promotion of the company's recently released McCafe Frappes and Smoothies. Classic meals and sandwiches, along with the value-oriented Dollar Menu lured diners to McDonald's. Value was big theme overseas, as well, though expanded hours, reimaged restaurants, and limited-time offers also helped.

Looking ahead, the company appears well positioned to deliver another round of strong earnings in the fourth quarter. Management indicated that October has gotten off to a strong start, and comparable-store sales are expected to increase in the 5%-6% range in the month.

Our initial take is that fourth-quarter earnings will be in the neighborhood of $1.15 a share, $0.03 higher than our previous call. If achieved, this would represent earnings growth of about 12% from the year-earlier figure. These shares traded slightly higher following the earnings release.

About The Company: McDonald's is a quick service restaurant with over 32,000 locations in more than 115 countries. The majority the restaurants (over 80%) are operated by franchisees. The company is best known for its hamburgers and French fries, but it now has a diverse menu that includes breakfast items and an array of coffee-based drinks.