Oak Brook, Illinois-After the successful turnaround of its U.S. business, McDonald's Corp. faces a new challenge-the sudden death of CEO Jim Cantalupo puts a young and unproven leader in charge of the world's largest restaurant company.

Charlie Bell has risen impressively within McDonald's and helped craft the strategy Cantalupo employed to revive its flagging U.S. sales and performance. But after spending most of his career in regional posts in his native Australia, the 43-year-old Bell must prove himself quickly in a job he was elevated to ahead of schedule.

Analysts and franchisees attending the McDonald's convention in Orlando, Florida, where Cantalupo, 60, was stricken with a fatal heart attack, voiced confidence Bell will be able to keep the company on the upswing. Nonetheless, a 2.6 percent drop in the stock price showed shareholders have a wait-and-see outlook.

"As far as day-to-day operations, it's not going to affect anything," said Stephen Dietz, who owns six McDonald's restaurants in Biloxi, Mississippi, and has been involved with McDonald's for over 40 years. "Everything is going to go on like it has."

Independent consultant Dick Adams, a former McDonald's franchising executive, said the jury is out on Bell despite his impressive resume. "He's definitely a bright, dynamic, corporate climber," Adams said. "There's a general sense that he'll go along with Cantalupo's agenda and plan, because he's one of the adopters of that plan." But his impact as CEO "remains to be seen." -AP