Wendy's International

(WEN) - Get Report

Wednesday reported disappointing sales at its flagship hamburger chain in March, but stuck to full-year earnings guidance.

Same-store sales decreased 5.1% at Wendy's U.S. company-owned restaurants and decreased 3.9% to 4.2% at U.S. franchise outlets in the monthly period ended April 3.

Same-store sales increased 3.2% to 3.4% at Tim Hortons restaurants in Canada and 5.5% at the U.S. group.

The company said sales in the back half of the month "reflect this year's shift of the Easter holiday into March." Wendy's had previously warned that winter storms hurt sales at its flagship group.

"Wendy's February and March sales comparisons were the most challenging we will face during 2005, as comps will begin easing late in the second quarter," the company said, adding that "management expects second-half 2005 performance to be stronger than the first half."

The Ohio-based company said first-quarter EPS will be lower than the prior year's restated results of 42 cents, partly because of higher beef prices, but it nevertheless affirmed 2005 guidance of $2.17 to $2.23.

The consensus estimates are 43 cents and $2.23, respectively.

Shares fell 19 cents, or 0.5%, to $39.06 in the premarket.