Wendy's 3Q Loss Widens from Year Prior, But Shares Rise

By RetailFOXBusiness

Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) revealed disappointing third-quarter earnings and sales on Thursday, but reiterated its fiscal 2012 outlook and announced commitments to return value to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

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The fast-food chain’s board approved a 100% increase in quarterly dividend to 4 cents a share from 2 cents, payable Dec. 17 to shareholders of record on Dec. 3, and authorized a new share buyback program for up to $100 million.

Shares of Wendy's climbed more than 3.3% to $4.40 Thursday morning.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the Dublin, Ohio-based restaurant operator widened its loss to $26.16 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $3.97 million, or a penny a share.

Excluding one-time items related to the early retirement of debt and the temporary shut down of certain restaurants, Wendy’s said it earned $84.5 million, or 3 cents a share, missing average analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll by two pennies.

Led by a 2.7% increase in same-store sales, revenue climbed 4.1% to $636.3 million from $611.4 million a year ago, but missed the Street’s view of $640 million.

"Our top-line momentum continues as we generated our sixth consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth, including a two-year same-store sales increase of 4.5%, in the third quarter," Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick said in a statement. "Our focus on operational levers such as menu innovation and improved marketing are reinvigorating the brand."

In an effort to revamp its brand image to rejuvenate sales, Wendy’s said it remains on track to reimage half of its company-operated restaurants by the end of 2015.

Wendy’s, which unveiled an incentive program on Thursday in an effort to accelerate the image overhaul, said sales grew by more than 25% in reimaged stores. The restaurant is looking to modernize 100 locations in 2013.

The company reiterated its full-year outlook with adjusted EBITDA excluding special items in a range of $320 million to $335 million. For fiscal 2013, Wendy’s sees adjusted EBITDA of $350 million to $360 million.