Burger King fourth-quarter profit beats on new menu additions

Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:16am EST

An employee prepares a food order on the opening day of the Burger King restaurant at the Marignane airport hall December 22, 2012. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

An employee prepares a food order on the opening day of the Burger King restaurant at the Marignane airport hall December 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

(Reuters) - Burger King Worldwide Inc (BKW.N), the third-largest U.S. hamburger chain, reported fourth-quarter profit above market estimates, as menu additions drove comparable sales gains in the United States and Canada, sending its shares 6 percent higher in premarket trade.

Comparable sales in the United States and Canada rose 3.7 percent in the quarter, driven in large part by the company's holiday sweets menu and recent additions such as the chicken parmesan sandwich and Cinnabon Minibon rolls.

Burger King, known for its "Whopper" hamburgers, has been trying to widen its appeal, especially among women and health-conscious consumers, by adding new items such as fruit smoothies and salads to its menu.

The company returned to public ownership in June 2012, less than two years after it was taken private in a $3.26 billion sale to Brazilian investment fund 3G Capital Management LLC.

The Miami-based chain said net income in the fourth quarter ended December 31 rose to $48.6 million, or 14 cents per share, from $25 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, Burger King earned 23 cents per share. Analysts on average were expecting profit of 15 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 30 percent to $404.5 million, but beat analysts' estimates of $375.31 million. Excluding the impact of unfavorable forex rates and refranchising deals, the company said organic revenues grew 5.6 percent.

System-wide sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 2.7 percent.

The results landed as the fast-food chain and other companies with European operations grapple with a scandal involving horsemeat in products labeled as beef.

Burger King said traces of horse DNA were found in samples of hamburger patties from a food-processing plant in Ireland but that the meat never reached its restaurants.

The company's shares were up at $17.50 in trading before the bell, after closing at $16.58 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

(Reporting Maria Ajit Thomas in Bangalore and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Maju Samuel, Anthony Kurian)

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