Burger Feast or Burger Famine?

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) first-quarter earnings looked pretty appetizing, but the fast-food giant's stock didn't reflect much optimism today. Should investors fret about some recent weakness in U.S. sales?

McDonald's first-quarter net income jumped 24% to $946.1 million, or $0.81 per share. This beat analysts' expectations by a long shot; they had been expecting earnings of just $0.70 per share. Revenue increased 6% to $5.62 billion, and total global same-store sales increased by 7.4%.

Of course, there's that U.S. sales data that's dominating McDonald's headlines today. Although McDonald's has often reported smokin' hot metrics here lately, the company revealed that U.S. comps in March decreased by 0.8%, and that April comps are expected to increase by just 2% to 2.5%. That, of course, does make it sound like the consumer spending slowdown here in the U.S. may be having an impact on McDonald's, despite its emphasis on fast, affordable food.

This isn't the first time I've thought investors should take a chill pill when it comes to fretting over McDonalds' future, though. First of all, even if U.S. consumers are slowing down, McDonald's is showing the benefits of having strong international operations to hedge against such domestic trends. Furthermore, I think McDonald's is a far more recession-resistant name than higher-priced, sit-down restaurant chains like Cheesecake Factory (Nasdaq: CAKE  ) , P.F. Chang's (NYSE: PFCB  ) , or Ruby Tuesday (NYSE: RT  ) .

I still believe McDonald's is a great stock idea for long-term investors; it's been firing on all cylinders lately and has taken on a real leadership role, despite rivalry from hungry competitors like Burger King (NYSE: BKE  ) and Wendy's (NYSE: WEN  ) . (It's no slouch in the competitive sense either, given its drive to spruce up its coffee offerings and take on the likes of Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) .) And of course, McDonald's is a meaty dividend payer, too.

I don't think investors have anything to fear from McDonald's stock -- it's a well-run, proven business that can outperform in good times and bad, and that's an element any savvy investor wants in a long-term holding. Investors might want to wait for a more appetizing entry point price-wise, but there's no burger famine here, folks.

Here's some fast Foolishness on this fast-food giant:


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