UPDATE 1-Carrols to spin off Taco Cabana, Q4 weak

Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:30am EST

Feb 24 (Reuters) - Carrols Restaurant Group Inc's fourth-quarter profit nearly halved and the fast-food chain operator said it would split its Hispanic and franchised Burger King businesses.

The move, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2011, will allow the company to focus better on each segment, Chief Executive Alan Vituli said.

The company to be spun-off will own and operate the Hispanic-themed Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana businesses, while Carrols will continue to own and operate its more than 300 franchised Burger King restaurants.

Carrols is the largest Burger King franchisee in the United States, based on the number of restaurants, and has been operating them since 1976.

Carrols saw net income for the fourth quarter almost halve to $2.6 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with $4.1 million or 19 cents a share last year.

Sales dropped to $194.9 million from $209.7 million.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 19 cents a share, on revenue of $196.6 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Abhishek Takle; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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