McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) continues to give its shareholders just what they've been hungry for -- an appetizing quarter despite the ugly economic environment.

First-quarter net income increased 3.5% to $979.5 million, or $0.87 per share, beating analysts' expectations. Revenue dropped 9.5%, to $5.08 billion, although excluding currency conversion, it would have risen 2%. (McDonald's actually missed analysts' expectations for $5.19 billion in revenue.)

Proving its continued popularity with consumers, McDonald's was able to boast impressive quarterly comparable-store sales, which increased by 4.3% overall; in the U.S., comps increased a solid 4.7%, in its Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa segment, comps surged 5.5%, and Europe was the laggard, increasing 3.2%.

You could also argue that McDonald's was up against some pretty tough comparisons on a year-over-year basis; check out how McDonald's quarter looked last year this time. Still, like discounter Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT), McDonald's has been well known for being a winner in the current economic environment as consumers reduce their spending.

The search for deals hasn't uniformly made life easier for other discounters, though. For example, fast-food rival Burger King (NYSE:BKC) recently disclosed a drop in traffic in its fiscal third quarter, with same-store sales rising only 1%. (And cheap chic purveyor Target (NYSE:TGT) hasn't been able to do nearly as well as Wal-Mart, to stretch the comparison even further.) It's interesting that certain discount brands appear to be resonating much better with consumers than others.

The Golden Arches trade at about 14 times trailing earnings, which is a slight premium to Burger King (which changes hands at 13 times earnings), yet cheaper than Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM), at 17 times. I wouldn't really call McDonald's dirt cheap, but at the same time, its continued solid performance and the fact that it's a steady dividend payer make for a strong investment thesis right now (and it's certainly pulled back from its 52-week high of $67).

Over the past several years, McDonald's has proven that it's a winner in good times and bad, which is impressive for any company. Furthermore, its continued ability to bring consumers through the doors in droves says it's still a great company and a strong candidate for long-term portfolios.

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