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Wendy’s completes buyback, ups annual per-share outlook

DUBLIN OHIO Wendy’s International Inc. upped its full-year, per-share earnings guidance by 9 cents, after it completed an almost $300 million share repurchase that will reduce the company’s share count by about 9 percent. —

On March 20 the company said it repurchased 9 million shares in an accelerated share repurchase first announced in February, at a purchase price of $31.33 per share. —

Because of the resulting lower number of shares outstanding in the company’s full-year share count, Wendy’s said its annual per-share profit would range between $1.26 and $1.32, up from previous guidance of $1.17 per share to $1.23 per share. In fiscal 2006, Wendy’s earned 37 cents per share. —

For the company’s first quarter, per-share earnings are expected to range between 11 cents and 14 cents, compared with a net loss of 5 cents per share in the first quarter of 2006, Wendy’s reported. —

“We expect Wendy’s first-quarter results to reflect a significant increase in store margin performance compared to continuing operations a year ago,” said chief executive and president Kerrii Anderson. —

Still, certain strategic items that were not in place last year will negatively affect the company’s first-quarter performance, officials said. Those changes include a decrease in total unit count of about 35 corporate restaurants and about 40 franchised units, $1.5 million in expenses for franchisee remodeling incentives, $3 million to $4 million in expenses for performance-based incentive compensation, and $4 million in restaurant closing and lease termination expenses. —

Wendy’s, which operates or franchises more than 6,600 namesake quick-service restaurants, said it plans to report first-quarter sales April 5. First-quarter earnings results are expected April 26. —

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