updated 10/19/2006 9:45:36 AM ET 2006-10-19T13:45:36

McDonald’s Corp. on Thursday reported a 15 percent rise in third-quarter profit, meeting a better-than-expected forecast provided last week, as the company benefited from strong U.S. sales and improvements in Europe.

The world’s largest restaurant company said net income rose to $843.3 million, or 68 cents per share, compared with $735.4 million, or 58 cents per share, a year ago.

Last week, McDonald’s forecast earnings of 68 cents a share, including a penny per share for impairment and other charges. At the time, Wall Street analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 63 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

During the quarter, McDonald’s results were helped by a new snack-sized chicken wrap in the United States and improved demand in Germany, France and Great Britain.

Quarterly revenue rose 10 percent to $5.88 billion, while global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months — or comparable sales — increased 5.8 percent.

“Global comparable sales were at their highest quarterly level in two years, and we delivered higher margins across all segments of the business,” Jim Skinner, chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The company said it was encouraged by progress in Europe, where customer visits were up and margins at company-operated restaurants were at their highest level since 2001.

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