Wendy's same-restaurant sales rise 0.8 percent, beat estimates


People wait on line at a Wendy's location
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

U.S. burger chain Wendy's reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales at established restaurants as it attracted more diners with its value meals.

The company also set a new $150 million share repurchase program and raised its quarterly dividend to 7 cents per share from 6.5 cents.

The U.S. casual dining industry has benefited from falling prices of produce, poultry, beef, and veal, but higher minimum wages for employees have pushed up menu prices, which has kept diners away.

Supermarkets have been passing lower food costs on to shoppers, making it cheaper to dine at home than eat out.

Wendy's likely benefited from demand for its '4 for $4' value meal and for offerings such as the new Grilled Chicken Sandwich.

The company said same-restaurant sales rose 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 1. Analysts polled by research firm Consensus Metrix had expected a 0.6 percent rise.

However, Wendy's net income fell to $28.9 million, or 11 cents per share, from $85.9 million, or 31 cents per share, a year earlier, due to a sharp decline in net investment income.

Excluding items, the company earned 8 cents per share, 1 cent lower than analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 33 percent to $309.9 million, mainly due to fewer company-owned restaurants in the quarter. But that edged past analysts' average estimate of $308.5 million.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to show analysts on average had expected Wendy's to report an adjusted profit of 9 cents per share.