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Drive-in burger chain



posted a 12% rise in net income Monday, beating analysts' per-share estimate by a penny, as same-store sales climbed 4%.

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For the fourth quarter ended Aug. 31, Sonic's earnings rose to $25.5 million, or 29 cents a share, from $25.5 million, or 25 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 28 cents a share.

Revenue jumped 10% to $198 million, surpassing analysts' forecast of $195 million. The company said the increase reflected new unit growth, same-store sales gains, higher franchising income related to new franchise drive-in development, and the benefit of the acquisition of 15 franchise drive-ins at the beginning of fiscal 2006.

The 4% rise in systemwide same-store sales reflected a 4.7% rise at franchise drive-ins and a 1.2% increase at partner drive-ins.

For the first quarter ending in November, Sonic forecast earnings of 20 cents to 21 cents a share. Wall Street targets earnings of 21 cents a share.

The company's projection is based on the assumption of 10% to 12% revenue for the quarter, with a 2% to 4% rise in same-store sales.