UPDATE 2-Dunkin' Donuts returns to California, new menu whets appetites
* Signs four franchise deals to open 45 cafes in California
* First stand-alone California cafes to open in 2015
* Q2 same-store sales at Dunkin' Donuts U.S. up 4 pct
* Q2 adj earnings/share 41 cents vs est 40 cents
July 25 (Reuters) - Dunkin' Donuts will return to California following an absence of more than a decade after signing franchise agreements to open 45 new cafes in the most populous U.S. state.
The company, owned by Dunkin' Brands Group Inc, said it planned to open its first stand-alone cafes in southern California in 2015. Under an existing agreement, its first cafe in the state could open by the end of this year.
The planned expansion follows a quarter in which Dunkin' Brands more than doubled its profit, beating Wall Street forecasts with a new-look menu that drew more customers to its cafes across the United States.
Like its rival fast-food chains, Dunkin' has launched a range of new products. Its tuna and chicken salad wraps, as well as the nationwide rollout of its turkey-sausage breakfast sandwich, drew more customers in the quarter ended June 29.
Same-store sales at Dunkin' Donuts U.S., which contributes about 70 percent of the company's revenue, rose 4 percent in the second quarter, compared with the 3.6 percent increase analysts polled by Consensus Metrix had expected.
Dunkin' said its National Donut Day promotion last month, which entitled customers to a free donut with every drink purchased, also brought in many customers.
The company first announced plans to open cafes in southern California in Janaury, a long-awaited return to the state it left when under different management. Its last California store, in Sacramento, closed in August 2002.
Canton, Massachusetts-based Dunkin' said in a statement on Thursday it had signed multi-unit store development agreements with four franchise groups. The first stand-alone restaurants under the deals will be in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
In addition, over the next several months, Dunkin' Donuts will open cafes in 'non-traditional' locations - colleges, universities, casinos and military bases
"The first non-traditional location may open by the end of this year ... at the popular, historic travel center on Route 66 in southern California," Paul Carbone, Dunkin' Brands' chief financial officer, said on a post-earnings conference call.
NEW MENU ATTRACTS CUSTOMERS
Dunkin' Donuts plans to have up to 200 stores in California by 2020 and has a long-term plan to have more than 15,000 restaurants in the United States.
New menu items have helped Dunkin' Donuts, which has more than 10,500 restaurants in 31 countries, as well as some of its competitors to attract more customers.
Shares of Wendy's Co hit their highest in more than five years on optimism over its new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger.
But McDonald's Corp, the dominant chain in the breakfast category, said on Monday that second-quarter sales at its established U.S. restaurants were up 1 percent, less than analysts had expected.
Dunkin', which also owns the Baskin-Robbins ice cream brand, said second-quarter net income rose to $40.8 million, or 38 cents per share, from $18.5 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, the company earned 41 cents per share.
Analysts on average had expected the company to earn 40 cents per share, on revenue of $183.1 million in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 5.9 percent to $182.5 million.
Dunkin' shares were down 0.5 percent at $41.81 on the Nasdaq on Thursday morning.