McDonald's McRibIf that title made your mouth water and all you can think about now is fries, then you and I should be friends. I love McDonald's and I'm stoked to hear that my contributions last quarter didn't go unnoticed. Net income rose 2% in the fourth quarter, with earnings coming in at $1.24 billion.

Stock analysts aren't thanking me, though a little card or flowers or, if I may, a coupon booklet, would've been nice. Analysts are saying the McRib (classic!) and low-cost coffee are to thank for the increase.

Considering the recession and the cheap and irresistible menu items, McDonald's is poised to take over the planet. Is it any surprise that people aren't going to pay $4 for a latte at Starbucks anymore? And it's about time the McRib got the recognition it deserves.

What else can McDonald's attribute to the upturn?

The fast-food juggernaut had to compete to get the more health-conscious customer and so they added smoothies and oatmeal to the menu. Diversifying the menu certainly paid off.

There's also the unmissable coffee options from the McCafe menu that make you remember that, oh yeah, coffee isn't expensive. And in case you didn't hear, McDonald's coffee won the consumer reports taste test when tried against Starbucks, Burger King, and Dunkin Donuts. Cheaper, and better coffee? Yes please. The Caramel Mocha coffee drink was a big hit.

The continual promotion of the menu-staple chicken nuggets and the glorious announcement that the McRib was back also benefited sales.

For 2011, the company is estimating total comp sales to rise between 4% and 5% and will invest about $2.5 billion (billion! with a "b"!) into new stores and to renovating existing ones.

Where you surprised by McDonald's fourth quarter profit increase?


Photo via permanently scatterbrained/Flickr