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NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) posted a 3.5 percent increase in first-quarter profit on Wednesday, as sales at established restaurants rose amid a recession, and said April same-store sales are trending at least as strong or better.
Still, the results largely matched investor expectations and may not dazzle investors, said Oppenheimer restaurant analyst Matthew DiFrisco.
McDonald's "was exceeding expectations through much of the last two years so it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to an in-line quarter," he said.
Its shares were up 1.1 percent at $56.26 in morning trade.
Meanwhile, P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc PFCB.O reported a higher-than-expected profit, aided by cost controls.
Both companies issued results a day after Brinker International Inc (EAT.N) posted a profit despite falling same-store sales.
"They're certainly tightening the belt and focusing on cost reductions, so finite-nature earnings drivers such as margin gains should hold up the outlooks," DiFrisco said of Brinker and P.F. Chang's.
"But I think a longer-term investor would like to see stability or a reversal of the traffic trends or negative comps," he said.
Shares of P.F. Chang's jumped 22 percent to $33.05 while shares of Brinker rose 8.8 percent to $20.
McDonald's first-quarter net income rose to $979.5 million, or 87 cents per share, from $946.1 million, or 81 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding a 4-cent-per-share gain from the sale of its interest in Redbox Automated Retail LLC, it reported earnings of 83 cents per share, compared with analysts' average estimate of 82 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Total revenue fell to $5.08 billion from $5.61 billion.
McDonald's had warned in March that the stronger dollar, which lessens the dollar-value of sales made overseas, would cut revenue by $600 million in the quarter at current rates.
McDonald's and some other fast-food restaurants have benefited as a global economic downturn has sent customers to lower-priced fare, including the company's Dollar Menu items.
Sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 4.3 percent globally. Same-store sales rose 5.5 percent in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa markets, rose 3.2 percent in Europe, and gained 4.7 percent in the United States.
U.S. results were boosted by strong demand for chicken, breakfast items and drinks, McDonald's said.
In Europe, results were strongest in Britain, France and Russia, while in its Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa markets, it said a strong sales performance in Australia and Japan helped offset weaker sales in China.
P.F. Chang's said its first-quarter net income rose to $13.3 million, or 56 cents per share, from $9.6 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier, surpassing analysts average estimate of 33 cents per share.
Consolidated revenue rose to $309.8 million from $305.9 million. Sales at restaurants open at least 18 months fell 6.6 percent at the company's namesake restaurants and fell 2.2 percent at the Pei Wei chain.
Sit-down restaurants have suffered amid the recession as U.S. diners try to save money amid falling home and investment values, rising unemployment and reduced access to credit.
P.F. Chang's said it expects the "negative" sales environment to continue through 2009 and forecast a "significant decline" in average weekly sales.
Still, it expects operating margins at its restaurants to be better than previously planned "due to incremental operational improvement opportunities."
It now expects fiscal 2009 earnings of $1.45 to $1.50 per share from continuing operations. In February, it forecast 2009 consolidated income from continuing operations to fall about 20 percent from $1.45 a share in 2008.
Editing by Dave Zimmerman