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Wendy's Names New CEO

The president and chief operating officer of Wendy's U.S. operations snags the post.

Updated from 11:39 a.m. EST

Fast-food chain

Wendy's International

(WEN) - Get Report

looked within to fill its vacant chief executive position, which opened up when its CEO died unexpectedly in December.

The Dublin, Ohio-based company tapped John T. Shuessler, 49, who had served as president and chief operating officer of Wendy's U.S. operations, to succeed Gordon F. Teter.

Shuessler joined the company as a manager trainee for an Atlanta franchisee in 1974, beginning a steady rise through the ranks. Wendy's founder R. David Thomas continues as senior chairman of the board.

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Shuessler has the right combination of restaurant industry experience, management skills and strategic planning ability to lead our organization," Thomas said in a statement.

Friday's announcement was not unexpected, as Wendy's typically promotes from within. "He was really the front-runner, given his previous position," said Andrew Barish, analyst with

Robertson Stephens

in San Francisco. "He was definitely the heir apparent." Barish rates the stock a strong buy; his firm has not done any underwriting for Wendy's.

Shuessler indicated he would continue much of the ventures initiated by Teter, including an aggressive share repurchasing program and enhancing the Wendy's brand name, which Barish said has been largely successful for much of the last two years.

The new chief executive takes over a company in fairly good shape. For February, the company reported a 4% increase over same-store sales in the year-ago period, and analysts project March to be similarly healthy. Wendy's operates more 5,300 units around the world, as well as 1,600 Tim Hortons fast food units in Canada.

Wendy's shares fell 1 5/16, or 7%, to close at 16 15/16 Friday. Barish said the decline is probably more a result of profit-taking; Wendy's shares have jumped nearly 30% in the last week.