US fastfood giant McDonald's has reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings, which rose 12%, helped by new products.

McDonald's posted earnings of US$547.4m, or 43 cents a share, in the third quarter to 30 September, compared to $486.7m, or 38 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 41 cents a share, reported Reuters.

McDonald's, which has introduced new products such as meal-sizes salads to try to win back customers, said total third-quarter revenue increased 11% to $4.50bn. Sales at McDonald's restaurants open at least a year increased 3.9%. Same-store sales in the US rose 9.5%, while same-store sales in Europe slid 0.1%.

Separately, the company announced that Ed Sanchez, president of McDonald's Latin America, is to resign at the end of 2003. Sanchez is leaving to take a top position at Lopez Foods, a McDonald's supplier, a spokeswoman told Reuters.

Sanchez is to be replaced by Jose Armario, a senior vice president in the Latin American division. Marcel Fleischmann, head of the company's Brazil operations, is to become vice president of the Latin American division.

McDonald's operates around 1,600 restaurants in Latin America, over 580 of which are in Brazil. The company operates more than 30,000 outlets worldwide.