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Burger King Grilled by Analysts

Burger King shares slide as analysts cut their price target on the fast food chain's stock and lower their earnings expectations.



) -- Shares of

Burger King Holdings


slid Wednesday after analysts cut their price targets on the fast food chain's stock and lowered their earnings expectations.


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analyst David Palmer reduced his price target on Burger King shares to $18, from $19, on concerns regarding the company's full-year costs and sales. Robert W. Baird analyst David Tarantino also cut his price target on BKC shares by $1 to $18.

On Tuesday,

Burger King posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter profits

of $49 million, or 36 cents per share, though results were sharply lower than the fourth quarter of last year.

>>Burger King Beats, Looks Abroad for Growth

While earnings topped Wall Street's expectations, Burger King's quarterly revenue came up short as global comparable same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least one year, fell 0.7%. Comps at U.S. and Canadian locations fell 1.5%.

Burger King's performance was pressured by stubbornly high rates of young, jobless males in the U.S.,


analyst Gregory R. Badishkanian said in an appearance on



Palmer said Burger King's performance in fiscal 2011 "will depend largely on the net impact of the U.S. breakfast rollout." Year-over-year comparisons will be more difficult because 2010 sales were also boosted by the launch of the $1 double cheeseburger.

A roster of fast food restaurants have gotten into the breakfast game recently. Rival


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ramped up its McCafe line of coffee and smoothie beverages

in recent quarters, part of its strategy to lure market share away from coffee rival


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Burger King said it plans to launch an enhanced breakfast platform this fall in U.S. and Canadian locations that will include new menu products and

Seattle's Best Coffee


Jack in the Box

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said earlier this month it expanded its breakfast menu last quarter with a grilled breakfast sandwich. Jack in the Box also rolled out a new line of coffee made with Kona coffee beans, and added a new fruit smoothie to its menu, in its recent quarter.

Palmer cut his fiscal 2011 earnings-per-share estimate for Burger King by a nickel to $1.34, while Tarantino cut his estimate by 6 cents, to $1.30. The consensus call among Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for Burger King to earn $1.42 per share.

Burger King shares fell 0.4% Wednesday, or 7 cents per share, to $16.83.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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Miriam Reimer


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