Restaurant chain Wendy's ( WEN) said April same-store sales decreased, but reaffirmed that its expected 2003 earnings will fall within the range of analysts' estimates.

The company said same-store sales at U.S. Wendy's restaurants fell 2.8%, compared with an increase of 5.7% in the April period last year. Sales for the month were hurt by the Easter weekend, which was in April this year vs. the March period a year ago, the company said. Wendy's U.S. same-store sales trended positively during the last two weeks of the April period, however.

Preliminary same-store sales at Wendy's U.S. franchise restaurants declined in a range of 1.9% to 2.1%, compared with a 8.0% increase last year. Tim Horton's preliminary same-store sales increased 0.5% to 0.7% in the U.S., compared with a 16.1% increase a year ago.

Looking to full-year 2003 results, Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's expects sales to improve and anticipates 2003 EPS in the $2.02 to $2.08 range. Analysts expect $2.02 a share, on average; the company earned $1.89 a share for full-year 2002.

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