Wendy's

(WEN) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings Friday that topped analysts' expectations by a penny, and projected 2001 earnings above analysts' forecasts.

The fast-food chain, based in Dublin, Ohio, said fourth-quarter earnings, excluding a one-time charge, were $46 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with $40.6 million, or 33 cents a share, in the same period last year. A survey of 14 analysts by

First Call/Thomson Financial

produced a consensus estimate of 38 cents a share for the quarter.

Revenue for the quarter grew 7.6% to $572 million from $532 million last year. The company said its system-wide sales surged 8.2% to $1.9 billion, and that same-store sales at its U.S. Wendy's outlets grew 3.2% during the quarter, just half the 6.4% growth recorded during the same period in 1999. Same-store sales at its U.S.

Tim Hortons

restaurants grew 13% on top of a 14.6% increase the year before.

Wendy's, which opened 243 new restaurants during the quarter, said it expects full-year earnings per share to grow 12% to 15% above the $1.53 recorded in 2000. That would put earnings in a range of $1.71 to $1.76 a share. The analysts' consensus forecast is for $1.71 a share.

Shares of the company lately climbed 87 cents, or 3.6%, to $25.04 in recent trading on the

New York Stock Exchange

.