MIAMI (AP) - Burger King's fourth-quarter net income nearly doubled, in part because of lower expenses and strong results in the U.S. and Canada.
The hamburger chain's adjusted earnings and revenue topped Wall Street's expectations. Shares (BKW) climbed more than 3% 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 buying it in 2010.
3G has been shifting to an entirely franchisee-owned model to cut overhead costs and boost profit margins.
3G partnered with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in Thursday's announcement that they would buy food giant H.J. Heinz and take it private.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, Burger King earned $48.6 million, or 14 cents a share. That compares with $25 million, or 7 cents a 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% to $404.5 million from $580.6 million. This still topped Wall Street's estimate of $375.3 million.
The company also said that systemwide revenue at locations open at least a year climbed 2.7% 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% 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%, but it was an improvement from a year ago when it posted a 1.2% 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% to $1.97 billion from $2.34 billion.
Burger King Worldwide has more than 12,900 locations in 86 countries and territories.
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)