Owner of Tim Hortons, Burger King posts strong Q1

(Dave Bedard photo)

Reuters — Restaurant Brands International said on Monday its Burger King and Tim Hortons chains posted their strongest same-store sales performance in years in the first quarter, with customers lured in by popular menu items.

The company’s stock rose more than three per cent in early trading but later pared gains.

U.S. chain Burger King bought Tim Hortons for $12.64 billion in August, creating the world’s third-largest fast-food restaurant group. The two chains are managed as separate brands under parent Restaurant Brands.

Tim Hortons, which had struggled with its U.S. expansion in previous years, is still looking to carve out new U.S. and global markets, Restaurant Brands said.

“There’s no shortage of interest or partners around the world in… expanding Tim’s,” CEO Daniel Schwartz told analysts in a conference call.

“We have big goals for Tim Hortons both here and the U.S. and internationally, and we look forward to talking more about it in the coming quarters.”

Stores at Tim Hortons open for 13 months or longer rose 5.3 per cent during the quarter, the company said, driven by its dark roast coffee and crispy chicken club sandwiches as well as its new Philly steak and cheese panini.

This was Tim’s best quarterly comparable store sales in three years.

At Burger King, it rose 4.6 per cent, the best performance in nearly seven years. Sales were helped in part by the chain’s “2 for $5” promotion and its spicy BLT whopper sandwich. Better U.S. weather compared to a year ago also drew more customers, executives said.

System-wide sales rose 8.1 per cent at Tim Hortons and 9.6 per cent at Burger King, on a constant currency basis.

Restaurant Brands, which has more than $1 billion in cash, said it was looking to pay down some of its debt in the coming quarters.

The company posted a net loss attributable to shareholders of $8.1 million for the three months ended March 31, compared with a loss of $514.2 million in the fourth quarter.

On an adjusted basis, the company reported a profit of 18 cents per share. Quarterly revenue more than doubled to $932 million from $416.3 million in the fourth quarter.

Shares have soared some 50 per cent in Toronto since listing in December and was trading at $51.58 around noon.

Reporting for Reuters by Solarina Ho in Toronto and Anet Josline Pinto in Bangalore.

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