Burger King's net income fell 83 per cent in the third quarter as the world's second biggest hamburger chain sold off more of its restaurants to franchisees as part of a turnaround push. But the com-pany's adjusted results topped Wall Street expectations, and its shares advanced.
The private investment firm that owns a majority stake in the fast-food chain, 3G Capital, has been working to put the shine back in Burger King's crown since purchasing it in 2010.
The firm has been shifting to an entirely franchisee-owned model to cut down on overhead costs and boost profit margins.
The United States-based chain that has more than 12,600 locations worldwide.
For the quarter, Burger King said global revenue at stores open at least a year rose 1.4 per cent. In the US and Canada, the figure rose 1.6 per cent.
CEO Bernardo Hees said sales at restaurants open at least a year are showing signs of picking up again for the fourth quarter.
The sales figure is a key metric because it strips out the impact of newly opened and closed locations.
For the three months ended September 30, net income fell to US$6.6 million, or two cents per share.
That compares with US$38.8 million, or 11 cents per share, last year. Net income excluding one-items totalled 17 cents per share. Analysts expected 15 cents per share, according to FactSet.
Revenue fell 26 per cent to $451.1 million, but was above the $439.7 million Wall Street expected.
Much of the revenue decrease came from Burger King selling restaurants to franchisees, which means the company no longer includes sales from those stores on its books. As of September 30, Burger King said 95 per cent of its restaurants were owned by franchisees; the goal is to eventually reach 100 per cent.
Organic revenue, which excludes the impact of re-franchising and exchange rates, was flat.
In the region encompassing Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Burger King said sales at established restaurants rose 1.8 per cent, driven by double-digit growth in Russia.
Performance in Southern Europe was softer amid a weaker economic climate, the company said.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, Burger King said sales at established restaurants rose 2.7 per cent. In the Asia Pacific region, the sales figure fell by 2.2 per cent as weak performances in Australia and Korea dragged down results.
In addition to reviving its image at home, Burger King is increasingly focusing on international growth. The company has struck deals to expand in China and Russia through partnerships with franchisees.
Over the past year, the vast majority of Burger King's new stores have been in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Burger King Worldwide Inc's third-quarter results are the second since it began trading again on the New York Stock Exchange in June.
As part of a complex deal to return Burger King to the public market, 3G sold a minority stake in the chain to Justice Holdings Inc, a London-based shell that was specifically set up to invest in another company,
3G Capital, which more than earned back the US$3.26 billion it paid for Burger King through the sale, has agreed to hold onto its stake in the chain for at least six months. Justice agreed to hold onto its shares for at least a year.