OAK BROOK Ill. Although most of the restaurant industry is thankful 2009 has ended, quick-service leader McDonald’s Corp. showed that the past year wasn’t all bad, announcing better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and a 9-percent growth in annual earnings per share. Its U.S. sales trends have also begun to improve. While the company’s 2.3-percent global same-store sales growth in the fourth quarter was its lowest worldwide figure in quite some time, chief executive Jim Skinner said, “As ...

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