Many retailers recently reported decent January comps here in the U.S. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) was not among them. The fast food king's U.S. same-store sales were down, but shareholders should still cheer up: International comps saved the day.

McDonald's January comps rose a healthy 2.6% overall. However, U.S. comps actually declined by 0.7%. Comps in Europe and the Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa segments both rose a healthy 4.3%.

The company had already disclosed that bad weather in January dragged down its U.S. comps. If that's the case, it seems safe to say that McDonald's watchers should brace themselves, given February's ferocity in some parts of the U.S. so far.

While the U.S. showing is a bit of a disappointment, McDonald's said those figures nonetheless managed to outperform the rest of the quick-service segment. It still appears that McDonald's has little to fear from fast-food rivals such as Wendy's/Arby's (NYSE:WEN), Burger King (NYSE:BKC), and Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM). However, all the fast-food players face one common risk: Many consumers are unemployed, and shifting away from meals out in general. BK also had miserable comps in the latest quarter.

Given the difficult economic environment, a stock like McDonald's still looks far more appetizing than Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) or P.F. Chang's (NASDAQ:PFCB). Both trade at an astronomical P/E multiple of 26, versus just 15 for McDonald's.

McDonald's is still a good defensive stock for long-term portfolios, given its long-standing stellar performance, its leadership role in fast food, and its allure for bargain-hunting consumers. However, the same question I had after last quarter's results still lingers: Is Mickey D's getting too pricey to buy in right now? I'm a little leery, especially given its signs of weakness in the U.S.

Would you take a bite out of McDonald's now, or keep waiting for the fast-food market to heat up? Let us know in the comment box below.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.