(By Balaseshan) Wendy's Co. (NASDAQ: WEN), a quick-service hamburger company, slipped to a quarterly loss due to a pretax charge related to the early retirement of debt. Despite profit and revenue missing Street's expectations, its shares rose 1.64% in premarket.
Loss from continuing operations was $26.69 million or $0.07 per share, compared to a profit of $2.54 million or $0.01 per share last year. Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations declined to $0.03 from $0.05.
Revenue increased 4.1% to $636.31 million. Wendy's North America company-operated restaurants generated a same-store sales increase of 2.7%, while franchise same-store sales in North America rose 2.9%.
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Analysts, on average, polled by Thomson Reuters had expected profit of $0.05 per share on revenue of $640.15 million for the third quarter.
Sales for the quarter grew to $558.34 million from $534.53 million, while franchise revenue rose to $77.97 million from $76.89 million.
The company-operated restaurant margin was 13.9%, a 20 basis-point improvement from 13.7% in the previous year quarter. Same-store sales growth drove the margin improvement and offset costs related to the company's investments in customer service initiatives and Image Activation.
The company expects its fourth-quarter results to benefit from the 47 Image Activation restaurants that reopened late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter.
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Looking ahead into fiscal 2012, the company reiterated its guidance for adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations of $320 million to $335 million. Wendy's expects to invest $85 million of capital for Image Activation. Wendy's is on track to reimage 48 existing Company-operated restaurants and open 19 new restaurants, with 16 built with an Image Activation design.
For 2013, the company issued its preliminary outlook for adjusted EBITDA of $350 million to $360 million. The company is targeting long-term adjusted EBITDA and adjusted earnings per share growth beyond 2013 in the high single-digit to low double-digit range.
The company's board authorized a 100% increase in the quarterly cash dividend from $0.02 to $0.04 per share. The increase will be effective with the next quarterly cash dividend, which is payable Dec. 17 to stockholders of record as of Dec. 3.
Wendy's also said its board authorized a new share repurchase program for up to $100 million of the company's common stock through Dec. 29, 2013.
WEN closed Wednesday's regular session at $4.26. The stock has been trading between $4.09 and $5.58 for the past 52 weeks.