McDonald's is still seeing its value meals and speciality drinks pay off with budget-conscious diners.

The world's biggest burger chain said today that its net income rose 7% in the first quarter, in line with Wall Street expectations.

McDonald's said that global sales rose 7.3% at restaurants that were open at least 13 months, driven by gains from all regions. 

For the first three months, it posted a profit of $1.27 billion, or $1.23 a share, compared to $1.21 billion, $1.15 a share, the same time last year.

A big part of the McDonald's success story in recent years has been the chain's rollout of popular menu items such as coffee frappes and fruit smoothies.

These have high profit margins and bring in customers throughout the day.

Other recent introductions by the fast-food chain include oatmeal and Chicken McBites, which the company said helped boost sales in the US in the first quarter.

In the US, sales at restaurants open at least 13 months were up 8.9%, as new menu items like Chicken McBites, updated restaurants and warm weather drew customers. The results also benefited from an extra day in the Leap Year.

McDonald's said sales in Europe, the company's biggest market, rose 5% despite economic turmoil and severe weather in many parts of the region. Sales in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa rose 5.5%, led by China, Australia and Japan.

At the same time, McDonald's is coping with rising costs for ingredients, as well as rising labour and rent expenses in some overseas markets. That led the fast-food chain to raise prices three times last year, for a total price increase of 3%.

Because of its size, the way McDonald's handles price increases can influence the rest of the fast-food industry.