UPDATE 1-New menu items boost Burger King profit

Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:13am EST

* Fourth-quarter earnings/share $0.24 vs est $0.23

* Revenue falls 34 pct due to re-franchising

* Same-restaurant sales rise 0.2 pct in the United States and Canada

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Burger King Worldwide Inc, known for its Whopper hamburgers, reported a better-than-expected 37 percent jump in quarterly profit as new products, including the Big King sandwich and Satisfries french fries, drew customers in North America.

Burger King has been adding attention-grabbing items to its menu, such as low-fat fries and bacon sundaes, to tempt diners away from rivals McDonald's Corp and Wendy's Co.

McDonald's, the world's No. 1 fast-food chain, reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales at established restaurants last month as fewer diners frequented its outlets.

In contrast, Burger King on Thursday reported a 1.7 percent rise in system-wide comparable sales for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Analysts on average had forecast a 1.30 percent increase, according to Consensus Metrix.

Burger King's sales at established restaurants in the United States and Canada rose 0.2 percent, blowing past the average analyst estimate of a 0.4 percent decline.

Burger King also posted strong growth in the Asia-Pacific region, with comparable sales growth of 6.2 percent, driven by strength in Australia and South Korea.

The company's net income rose to $66.8 million, or 19 cents per share, in the quarter, from $48.6 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Burger King earned 24 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected a profit of 23 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue fell 34 percent to $265.2 million, primarily due to the net re-franchising of 360 company-owned restaurants in 2013. Analysts had expected $270 million.

Burger King's shares were little changed in premarket trading on Thursday. They closed at $25.48 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

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