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McRib, Coffee Help Boost McDonald's 4Q Earnings

McDonald's fourth-quarter net income rose 2 percent as it brought in more customers with its McRib sandwich and an addition to its successful McCafe coffee lineup.

The company based in Oak Brook, Ill., has kept sales growing as competitors like Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. and Burger King have struggled. Its limited-time products, like the McRib, and low-cost menu items have continued to draw in customers.

The world's biggest burger chain earned $1.24 billion, or $1.16 per share, for the period ended Dec. 31. That's up from $1.22 billion, or $1.11 per share, a year ago.

Revenue climbed 4 percent to $6.21 billion.

The performance met the expectations of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

But investors may have been looking for more. McDonald's Corp.'s stock dipped 22 cents to $74.79 in premarket trading on Monday. The stock hit its all-time high of $80.94 in early December.

Sales at U.S. stores open at least 13 months increased 4.4 percent as the company rolled out its Caramel Mocha. Worldwide, the figure rose 5 percent on strength in Asia.

The increases were smaller than in the third quarter, when the figure rose 5.3 percent in the U.S. and 6 percent worldwide.

This figure is a key indicator of a restaurant operator's health because it measures results at existing locations instead of newly opened ones.

McDonald's said its U.S. sales were hurt in December by bad weather. It expects global sales at stores open at least 13 months will rise 4 percent to 5 percent in January.

For the year, McDonald's net income climbed 9 percent to $4.95 billion, or $4.58 per share, from $4.55 billion, or $4.11 per share. Revenue improved to $24.07 billion from $22.74 billion.

McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner said in a statement that in 2011 the company plans to use about half of its $2.5 billion in capital spending to open about 1,100 new restaurants. The rest will be invested in existing locations.

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