Fast-food giant McDonald's today reported higher first-quarter earnings due to solidly better sales in the US, China and several other key markets. 

Earnings for the quarter ending March 31 were $1.4 billion, up 13.2%. 

But the company's revenues dropped 9.5% following the sales of company-owned restaurants to franchisers.

McDonald's shares jumped following the results, which were better than analyst expectations and showed continued strength in the US and in many key overseas markets.

Important international markets with good results included Britain, Germany, China and Italy. Those countries helped compensate for weaker markets, such as South Korea.

McDonald's chief executive Steve Easterbrook has been credited with boosting the chain's fortunes after being tapped to lead the company in 2015. 

Key steps have included simplifying the menu, improving restaurant appearance and moving more swiftly to tech-centered ventures, such as orders via mobile application.

"We're keeping the customer at the centre of everything we do as we continue enhancing their McDonald's experience," Easterbrook said. 

"We are satisfying the rising expectations customers have for the taste and quality of our food and greater convenience as they visit our restaurants or enjoy meals delivered to their homes and offices," he added.