Winter Storms Hurt Wendy's Feb. Sales

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Wendy's International Inc. (WEN) on Wednesday said sales at company-owned U.S. hamburger restaurants open at least 15 months fell 2.4 percent in February due to winter storms that kept consumers at home.

At the company's U.S. franchised restaurants, same-store sales fell 0.7 percent to 0.9 percent for the February period, which ended March 6.

"Wendy's sales were impacted by winter storms, especially in the Northeast, but were positive toward the end of the month," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jack Schuessler said in a news release.

Three Wall Street analysts had forecast a decline of 1 percent at company-owned stores and a drop of between 1 percent and 2 percent at franchised stores.

Several analysts had expected lackluster results in February because of tough comparisons against the same period last year, when same-store sales at Wendy's company-owned stores rose 9.9 percent.

Wendy's, which has faced tough competition from bigger rivals McDonald's Corp. (MCD) and Burger King Corp. (search) in the last year, recently introduced new fruit cups that helped drive sales later in the month, Banc of America Securities Andrew Barish said in a note to clients.

The company has said sales have also benefited from its decision to allow customers to forego French fries in favor of chili, a baked potato or salads in combination meals.

Still, Barish said he expects negative same-store sales trends at Wendy's to continue for the next few months due to tough comparisons against a year ago, and added that he thinks the company's stock is overpriced.

Wendy's shares were down 65 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $39.05 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange (search).