Updated from 11:58 a.m. ESTFast food giant Burger King ( BKC) posted a 41% jump in second-quarter income and declared its first-ever dividend as a public company. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company reported net income of $38 million, or 28 cents a share, up from $27 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier. The No. 2 burger chain, behind McDonald's ( MCD), said revenue increased 9% to $559 million from $512 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 26 cents a share and revenue of $545 million. "Our BK Value Menu, as well as our innovative Xbox game collection -- which was the best-selling video game of the holiday season, with more than 3.2 million copies sold -- increased both sales and restaurant traffic," CEO John Chidsey said in a statement Same-store sales, or sales at restaurants open for at least a year, increased 3.7% worldwide and 4.4% in North America. The Miami-based hamburger chain also announced its first quarterly dividend since the company went public on May 18. The dividend payment of 6.25 cents a share will be paid March 15 to shareholders of record Feb. 15. "We have elected to pay our first cash dividend as a public company because we have consistently generated strong cash flow, and we expect our cash flow to continue to strengthen," Ben Wells, chief financial officer and treasurer, said in a statement. "Because we believe that our business will remain financially strong, we expect to be able to return capital to our shareholders and simultaneously grow our restaurant count."
Burger King said it is looking at other moves aimed at boosting shareholder value, such as strategic investments, increasing its dividend and buying back stock. The company also said it is on target to achieve its financial goals for the fiscal year, including revenue growth of 6% to 7% and adjusted net income growth in excess of 20%. Burger King currently operates more than 11,100 restaurants 65 countries. The company expects net restaurant growth of about 250 units for the year. Among the moves are the company's first restaurants in Japan and Indonesia. "This is a catch-up strategy," says Malcolm Knapp, president of Malcolm M. Knapp, a New York-based consulting firm. "Everybody else is there ahead of them. Japan is a tough market. Just recently McDonald's has become profitable." The company also plans to unveil a new breakfast value menu on Feb. 19, offering 10 items with prices starting at $1, including French toast sticks, a sausage biscuit, hash browns, and a new "hamlette" sandwich. "McDonald's strongest day part in terms of growth is breakfast," Knapp says. "It's been drive more recently by a premium coffee that's been very effective for them." Last week McDonald's said fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, boosted by continued sales growth and a gain from the sale of its stake in Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG). Shares of Burger King were trading down 7 cents, or 0.3%, to $20.68.