Wendy's

Wendy's Co. (WEN - Get Report) posted modestly stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Thursday but reported weaker same-store sales in the United States and a softer 2019 profit outlook.

Wendy's said earnings for the three months ending in December were pegged at 16 cents per share, up from 9 cents a share over the same period last year and topping the Street consensus by a penny. Total revenues rose 3.6% to $397.8 million, Wendy's said, but missed analysts' estimates of $400 million as sales in stores opened for at least 15 months rose 0.2%, well shy of the 0.74% consensus collected by I/E/B/S Refinitiv.

Wendy's said it sees adjusted 2019 earnings in the region of 61 to 66 cents per share, up from a tally of 59 cents in 2018 but again short of the 66 cent Street forecast.

"We are proud of the progress we made in 2018 to strengthen our brand by ensuring more customers enjoy Wendy's more often including expanding our number of restaurants, reimaging existing restaurants, and executing a well-balanced marketing approach that strives to drive profitable growth for our franchisees," said CEO Todd Penegor. "Our resilient business model generated significantly higher cash in 2018, and we continued to reward shareholders by returning $350 million through dividends and share repurchases."

"In 2019 we will continue to build our foundation for growth by executing a balanced marketing approach that resonates with today's consumer, driving operational excellence across the organization, investing in our consumer facing digital capabilities and further developing our global growth strategy," he added.

Wendy's shares were marked 1.75% lower at the start of trading Thursday and changing hands at $17.36 each.