April was a cruel month for many retailers, but McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) defied that doom, luring consumers across the globe toward the Golden Arches.

McDonald's April same-store sales jumped 4.9%, while overall monthly sales clocked up 10.3%. Earlier this year, McDonald's seemed plagued by anemic U.S. comps growth., but April told a different story. Comps increased 3.8% domestically, with McDonald's citing the popularity of its McCafe offerings, its tried-and-true McNuggets, and its Dollar Menu value message.

European same-restaurant sales surged 5.3%, and comps in the Asia Pacific/Middle East/Africa region jumped 3.9%. Yet in each geography, comps growth slowed at least a couple of percentage points from the year-ago period.

Still, McDonald's continues to sizzle, regardless of competitive efforts from usual suspects such as Yum! Brands, Burger King (NYSE: BKC), and Wendy's/Arby's, as well as the newer rivalry it's sparked up with coffee giant Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX).

Meanwhile, the company's focus on value for thrifty consumers puts Mickey D's in the same league as discounters such Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Costco (Nasdaq: COST). The continuing fragility of the U.S. and global economies still suggests that discount stocks are good defensive investing ideas. In addition, McDonald's makes a good hedge in case recent signs of a consumer comeback ultimately sputter out. 

On a big-picture level, McDonald's still commands one of the greatest American brands. Last week Thurgood Marshall Academy sophomore Malek Latney wrote up several solid reasons to invest in McDonald's while visiting Fool HQ.

McDonald's stock has performed incredibly well in recent years, yet it remains a great stock for long-term portfolios. Cautious would-be investors might want to wait for moments of share-price weakness to get the most bang out of their investing bucks. Still, given the company's fine operational performance in good economic times and bad, it's hard to go wrong with McDonald's.

Costco and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Costco and Starbucks are Stock Advisor picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on Yum! Brands. The Fool owns shares of Costco. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

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