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Analyst expects McDonald's results to improve

NEW YORK (AP) -- Despite McDonald's lackluster January sales, one analyst thinks the fortunes of the world's largest hamburger chain will improve in 2013.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based burger chain said Friday a key sales figure dropped 1.9 percent in January, as it struggled to grow in the U.S. and saw a decline in Asia.

After years of outperforming rivals, McDonald's has been struggling amid intensifying competition and challenging economic conditions around the world. The company has worked to improve results by emphasizing value while planning a series of new limited-time offers to attract customers.

Revenue at stores open at least 13 months in the U.S. edged up 0.9 percent but the figure fell 2.1 percent in Europe and 9.5 percent in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Susquehanna Group analyst Rachael Rothman said Monday she was disappointed by international results, she noted that in December and January the chain outperformed its quick-service sandwich chain rivals in the U.S., supporting her belief that "McDonald's will win back share in 2013 with a balance of premium new product news and value messaging."

In Europe, the economy remains volatile, but McDonald's is maintaining or growing share in most major markets, she said.

She kept her "Positive" rating on the stock and increased her 52-week price target to $109 from $98.

Shares rose 35 cents to $95.22 in afternoon trading.