No. 3 U.S. burger chain Wendy's International Inc. (WEN) on Friday said sales at its U.S. company-owned restaurants open at least 15 months fell 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

At U.S. franchised restaurants, same-store sales fell 1.9 percent.

Wendy's has seen sales pressured in recent months as rival McDonald's Corp. (MCD) promoted new higher priced items, such as a new line of chicken sandwiches, that are perceived to be higher quality than regular fast food fare.

At the same time the company has been under intense pressure from investors to take steps to revive its performance.

Most recently, in December billionaire investor Nelson Peltz called on the company to spin off all of its Tim Hortons coffee-shop chain and sell ancillary brands like Baja Fresh, Cafe Express and Pasta Pomodoro.

Tim Hortons same-store sales rose 5.8 percent in Canada and 6.7 percent in the United States in the fourth quarter, the company said Friday.

Baja Fresh same-store sales fell 2.9 percent.

In its sales release, Wendy's highlighted strategic steps it has taken over the past several months, including completion of the repurchasing of 5.75 million shares, the closings of 40 underperforming Wendy's restaurants and the planned initial public offering of 15 percent to 18 percent of Tim Hortons.

Wendy's shares closed at $54.30 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock trades at about 25.4 times 2006 estimated earnings, compared with a 16.8 times multiple for McDonald's.