Burger King results top analysts' estimates

Burger King's Whopper was first created more than 55 years ago and remains a classic favorite. Read on to see more burgers that have inspired popular, and sometimes cult-like, devotion.

MIAMI Burger King's (BKW) fourth-quarter net income nearly doubled, in part because of lower expenses and strengthening results in the U.S. and Canada.

The U.S.-based hamburger chain's adjusted earnings and revenue topped Wall Street's expectations. Shares climbed more than 3 percent in premarket trading Friday.

3G Capital, the private investment firm that owns a majority stake in the company, has been working to turn around Burger King's business since purchasing it in 2010.

3G has been shifting to an entirely franchisee-owned model to cut down on overhead costs and boost profit margins

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Burger King earned $48.6 million, or 14 cents per share. That compares with $25 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.

Removing realignment project costs and other items, earnings were 23 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 15 cents per share.

Revenue fell 30 percent to $404.5 million from $580.6 million. This still topped Wall Street's estimate of $375.3 million.

Shares of Burger King gained 60 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $17.18 before the market open.

The company also said that systemwide revenue at locations open at least a year climbed 2.7 percent in the quarter. This figure is a key gauge of a restaurant operator's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

The performance was led by a 3.7 percent increase in the U.S. and Canada.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean reported small gains in systemwide revenue at locations open at least a year, but the growth slowed from the prior-year period. The Asia Pacific region reported an increase of less than 1 percent, but it was an improvement from a year ago when it posted a 1.2 percent decline in the figure.

For the year, Burger King earned $117.7 million, or 33 cents per share. That's up from $88.1 million, or 25 cents per share, in the previous year. Annual revenue declined 16 percent to $1.97 billion from $2.34 billion.

Burger King Worldwide Inc. has more than 12,900 locations in 86 countries and territories.