McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) announced doubled fourth-quarter profits in its earnings report today -- no great surprise, since the fast-food giant had already tipped off investors by upping its guidance last week.

Fourth-quarter profit came in at $1.24 billion, or $1 per share. As we'd already heard last week, that included $0.39 per share from the disposition of Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG). Still, income from continuing operations increased 30% to $761.2 million, or $0.61 per share. Sales increased 11% (7% in constant currencies) to $5.63 billion in the quarter.

For the entire year, McDonald's said global same-store sales increased 5.7%, while its sales and operating income reached record highs of $21.6 billion and $4.4 billion, respectively. Full-year earnings came in at $2.83 per share (earnings from continuing operations were $2.30 per share). It also paid a meaty dividend during 2006, even as it reduced shares outstanding by 5%. (Those initiatives returned nearly $5 billion to shareholders, according to the press release.)

McDonald's performance in 2006 inspires few complaints, but this Fool's still got a beef: The company doesn't include a balance sheet and cash flow statement in its earnings press release. To nosh on those, Fools have to wait for the company to file with the SEC. (In fairness, McDonald's supplies some additional information in its currently available 8-K.)

McDonald's has already announced plans to spend $1.9 billion in capital in 2007 to open 800 more restaurants and invest in existing Golden Arches. In comparison, 2006 guidance called for capital expenditures of $1.8 billion. Bear in mind that in 2006, McDonald's opened 359 net traditional restaurants, and it plans roughly 400 net openings in 2007, suggesting that it will close some restaurants in the coming year.

Among the other McNuggets McDonald's disclosed in its 8-K filing, the company plans to maintain its debt level in 2007. Although it expects the price of beef in the U.S. to drop, it expects rising prices for chicken domestically, and for beef and chicken in Europe.

McDonald's had a very successful year in 2006, competing very effectively with rivals like Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) and Burger King (NYSE:BKC). The stock price fell today, but only after riisng to a new 52-week high following last week's good news. Given McDonald's recent triumphs, I wouldn't bet against the fast-food giant; it really seems to be firing on all cylinders. Let's see whether the Golden Arches can keep shining in 2007 with so much success behind them.

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McDonald's paid a meaty dividend in 2006; if you're looking for more dividend-paying stock recommendations, check out a 30-day free trial to Motley Fool Income Investor.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy is a fan of the McRib.