Wendy's Serves Up Lower Profits

A double-decker disappointment for Wendy's International Inc.: lower-than-expected third-quarter earnings and a downgrade cooled shares of Wendy's (WEN) restaurants Friday. Shares dropped 3 15/16, or 23 percent, to 20 9/16 Friday morning and Lehman Brothers cut its rating on the stock to "neutral" from "buy."

Earnings fell a penny short of the 34-cent estimate in a survey of Wall Street analysts by First Call.

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The Dublin, Ohio-headquartered fast-food chain posted a third-quarter net income of $42.9 million, or 33 cents a share vs. $53 million, or 39 cents in the year-ago period.

Wendy's reported $485.2 million in revenue vs. $525.5 million last year. The shortfall came from a reduction in gains from franchising and fewer company-operated restaurants, the company said in a press release.

Retail sales were $388.9 million vs. $425.2 million, down primarily due to the closing of 60 underperforming, company-operated Wendy's restaurants during the first-half and the sale of more than 210 company units to franchisees over the past year. Wendy's International Inc. operates a mix of proprietary and franchised fast-food restaurants.

Wendy's repurchased 3.1 million in common shares for $65.6 million during the quarter, bringing the year-to-date stock repurchase program to about 8.7 million shares or $198 million. The company plans to repurchase up to $350 million in stock by year-end 1999.

Written By Steve Gelsi