US burger chain Wendy’s has reported a small drop in same-store sales for the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing sales growth for the year down to a modest 1.6%.
However, $5.4 million in tax benefits and an increase in investment income helped push the company’s fourth-quarter net income to $22.4m in the fourth quarter to 30 December 2012, up from $4m in the same period last year. Revenues grew 2.4% to $629.9m, up from $615m in the fourth quarter of 2011.
This helped soften the blow of millions of dollars worth of pre-tax charges over the year, which drove the company’s net income from continuing operations to $4m in 2012, down from $17.9m in 2011.
Commenting on the results, Wendy’s president and CEO Emil Brolick said: “We are pleased with progress we made in 2012, as our brand transformation accelerated with Image Activation, and our ‘A Cut Above’ brand positioning gained traction with consumers.
“Our 2012 North America same-store sales growth of 1.6% and record-high average annual restaurant sales of $1.48m are evidence that our growth initiatives are beginning to work. While our fourth-quarter same-store sales were slightly negative, they increased 4.9% on a two-year basis as we rolled over the successful introduction of Dave’s Hot ‘n Juicy cheeseburgers a year ago.”
Growth in 2013
The company predicted Adjusted ebitda of $350m-$360m in 2013, which would represent a 5-8% increase on the 2012 figure of $333.3m, with same-store sales growth of 2-3% in its North American company owned restaurants.
Plans included the development of 25 new company-owned and 40 new franchise restaurants in North America, with 60 new international franchise and joint-venture restaurants, as well as the re-imaging of 100 company-owned restaurants and 100 franchised restaurants.
“As we look to 2013, we are optimistic about our product pipeline and marketing plans,” said Brolick.
“We are confident that our strong balance sheet, financial flexibility and excellent cash flow provide us the capacity to fund our Image Activation initiative and also return capital to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases.”