updated 1/17/2007 9:25:57 AM ET 2007-01-17T14:25:57

McDonald's Corp., operator of the world's largest fast-food chain, on Wednesday posted a global same-store sales rise of 7.2 percent in December and forecast a fourth-quarter profit ahead of Wall Street estimates.

The company projected earnings of $1 per share, which includes 61 cents per share from continuing operations and 39 cents per share related to the 2006 spinoff of Mexican-style chain Chipotle.

Analysts, whose estimates typically exclude one-time items, are looking for profit of 58 cents per share, according to a Thomson Financial poll.

For the fourth quarter, McDonald's posted a 6.3 percent rise in same-store sales, or sales at restaurants open at least a year, which are a closely watched indicator of retail strength.

U.S. same-store sales added 6.9 percent last month and 5.9 percent in the quarter.

McDonald's plans to report fourth-quarter results next Wednesday.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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