Tiim Hortons

Restaurant Brands Inc. (QSR - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, and boosted its 2019 dividend target to $2 a share as same store sales for its Tim Horton's division lead gains for the group.

Restaurant Brands said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in December came in at 68 cents per share, up 1.5% from the same period last year and one penny ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, the company said, rose 14.55% to $1.385 billion, a figure that fell largely in-line with analysts' forecasts. 

"I am pleased to report that our business continued to deliver strong system-wide sales growth in 2018, driven by acceleration of net restaurant growth at Burger King and Popeyes and improved momentum in comparable sales at Tim Hortons through our 'Winning Together' plan," said CEO Jose Cil. "We have demonstrated our increased focus on technology and made notable progress against many of our initiatives including delivery, kiosks, and mobile app development."

"Throughout the year, we continued to maintain a balanced approach to capital allocation through our increased dividend, share repurchases, and reinvestment in our brands, illustrating our confidence in the long-term growth potential of our business," Cil added. "We remain focused on further growing franchisee profitability and improving guest experience, which we believe will drive value for all of our stakeholders for many years to come."

Restaurant Brands shares rose $1.02 to close at $63.72. 

Popeye's sales grew 6.3% from last year to $934 million, but were up just 0.1% on a comparable basis, the company said. Burger King's comparable sales rose 1.7% as revenues jumped 8.4% to $5.528 billion, Restaurant Brands said, while Tim Horton's sales jumped 1.9% to take revenues to $1.727 billion. 

The group declared a fourth quarter dividend of 50 cents per share, payable on April 3, and said it's "targeting a total of $2.00 in dividends per common share and partnership exchangeable unit of RBI LP for 2019."