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Wendy's/Arby’s posts improved 4Q trends

Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc. reported positive sales momentum at both its quick-service brands as the company released preliminary, unaudited fourth-quarter and full-year financial results for 2010.

Ahead of the Atlanta-based company’s investor day on Thursday, Wendy’s/Arby’s reported a net loss of $10.8 million, or 3 cents per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 2. In the same quarter a year earlier, the company recorded a net loss of $14.7 million, or 3 cents per share. Latest-quarter revenue fell to $840.7 million, compared with $900.9 million a year earlier.

The loss in the 2010 fourth quarter included after-tax special charges of $16.5 million, or 3 cents per share, while the 2009 fourth quarter results included $44.5 million, or 10 cents per share, of special charges.

Fourth-quarter systemwide same-store sales rose 0.2 percent at Wendy’s, comprising a 0.9-percent decrease at corporate stores and a 0.6-percent increase at franchised restaurants. Arby’s same-store sales increased 2 percent for the quarter, reflecting gains of 2.9 percent at corporate units and 1.6 percent at franchised stores.

For the full year, Wendy’s/Arby’s Group booked a net loss of $4.3 million, or 1 cent per share, compared with net income of $3.5 million, or 1 cent per share in 2009. Consolidated revenues fell to $3.4 billion, compared with $3.6 billion in 2009.

Wendy’s systemwide same-store sales decreased 0.6 percent for the full year, including a 1.7-percent decline at corporate restaurants and a 0.3-percent dip at franchised locations. For the full year, Arby’s systemwide same-store sales declined 5.8 percent, including losses of 7.1 percent at coporate units and 5.2 percent at franchised units.

Wendy’s/Arby’s will host its annual Investor Day conference in New York Thursday, where much of the focus will be on growth plans for the Wendy’s brand in North America and abroad. The company announced last week that it would investigate strategic alternatives for the Arby’s brand, including a possible sale of the concept.

“2011 will be a transition year,” chief executive Roland Smith said in a statement, “as we explore strategic alternatives for Arby’s, including a sale of the brand, reduce our corporate G&A to support a single brand, and focus our energies on investing in Wendy’s growth opportunities.”

The company said it expects 2011 same-store sales at corporate Wendy’s restaurants to increase between 1 percent and 3 percent.

Atlanta-based Wendy’s/Arby’s operates or franchises the 6,600-unit Wendy’s brand and the 3,700-unit Arby’s chain.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected]on.com.

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