McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) turned around a relatively dismal January, reporting impressive February same-store sales.

The Golden Arches' comps increased by 4.8% in February. Unfortunately, U.S. comps remained anemic, rising a mere 0.6%. However, Europe and the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa segments both experienced impressive increases in same-store sales, up 5.4% and 10.5%, respectively.

Last week's February retail comps seemed like a pleasant step in the right direction. However, many retailers faced easy comparisons, so appearances might be a bit deceiving, rendering many retailers' stock prices potentially too good to be true. For the most part, McDonald's has performed quite well during the economic malaise. But this most recent data also had a low hurdle to clear, since February comps last year rose just 1.4%.

Still, McDonald's has retained a lot of traction, despite the best efforts of competitors such as Burger King (NYSE: BKC), Wendy's/Arby's, Yum! Brands (Nasdaq: YUM), and even Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) and Panera (Nasdaq: PNRA). I still contend that with unemployment as high as it is, a stock like McDonald's looks a lot more appetizing than those of Cheesecake Factory (Nasdaq: CAKE) or P.F. Chang's (Nasdaq: PFCB). Shares of both upscale dining chains have soared recently, and both sport very high multiples relative to McDonald's while relying more strongly on consumer confidence.

Last month, my confidence in McDonald's shares wavered amid signs of U.S. comps weakness. A long stretch of superb performance threatened to make the company's prior-year comparisons increasingly difficult. It's hard to keep on stacking up great performance year after year -- but McDonald's has still managed a string of shockingly good performances.

Mickey D's strikes me as among the safest and the most defensive of the restaurant stocks, given its bargain allure and its excellent operations. Are you thinking of buying McDonald's now? Let us know in the comments boxes below.  

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Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Fool has a disclosure policy.