January 31, 2013 / 1:10 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 2-Dunkin' Brands profit beats Street; U.S. sales hold up

* Same-store sales at U.S. Dunkin’ Donuts shops up 3.2 pct

* To revise 2013 profit forecast after refinancing complete

* Says U.S. consumer spending holding up

* Shares up almost 3 percent

By Lisa Baertlein

Jan 31 (Reuters) - Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as operating costs fell and sales at established Dunkin’ Donuts cafes in the United States came in above analysts’ estimates.

The company, which also raised its quarterly dividend by 4 cents to 19 cents per share, plans to revise its 2013 profit forecast once it knows what savings it will reap from refinancing its debt, Chief Executive Nigel Travis told Reuters.

Shares in the chain were up 2.8 percent to $36.79 in morning trading after the company joined rivals Starbucks Corp and McDonald’s Corp in reporting unexpected U.S. strength in the latest quarter.

Dunkin’ Brands has not seen any impact from this month’s U.S. payroll tax increase, which some experts feared could depress consumer spending, Travis said.

“Other than the post-Christmas blues, I don’t think the (U.S.) consumer is in any worse shape,” he said.

Dunkin’ Donuts shops in the United States account for almost 75 percent of the company’s revenue and more than 80 percent of its profit. During the fourth quarter, that business reported a 3.2 percent rise in same-store sales, compared with the 2.4 percent rise Expected by analysts polled by Consensus Metrix.

The Canton, Massachusetts-based company, which also owns the Baskin-Robbins ice cream brand, said net income rose to $34.3 million from $11.6 million a year earlier. Per-share earnings were 34 cents before special items, slightly ahead of the 33 cents analysts expected.

Fourth-quarter operating costs and expenses fell 8 percent to $98.9 million.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $161.7 million, missing the Street estimate of $170.9 million.

Dunkin’ Brands forecast per-share profit of $1.48 to $1.51 in 2013 before special items, while analysts were looking for $1.51, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Company executives expect lower costs for coffee to offset higher wheat prices due to last summer’s historic U.S. drought.

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