TORONTO — The parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King doubled its fourth quarter earnings and grew sales across its businesses as the global fast food giant added an increasing number of new restaurants to its network.

Restaurant Brands International reported earnings attributable to common shareholders of US$118.4 million for the period ended Dec. 31, or US50 cents per share, compared with US$51.7 million (US25 cents) in the same period a year ago.

We are fortunate that we have two iconic brands and when we look at our priorities it all comes down to driving that

Revenue was US$1.11 billion, up from US$1.06 billion and systemwide sales rose 2.4 per cent at Tim Hortons and 8.5 per cent at Burger King in constant currency.

Adjusted earnings per share were US44 cents, beating average analyst estimates of US42 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters. That compared with earnings of US32 cents per share in the same period year ago.

“We are fortunate that we have two iconic brands and when we look at our priorities it all comes down to driving that,” chief executive Daniel Schwartz said in an interview Monday.

“We accelerated our net restaurant growth on the Tim Hortons side and on the Burger King side. We accelerated the pace of the brands’ growth all around the word. We grew way more than in the prior year.”

The company opened 85 Tim Hortons locations in Canada, 26 in the U.S. and 11 internationally. Burger King opened 57 locations in North America and 438 global locations in the fourth quarter.

Burger King’s same-store sales in the U.S. and Canada rose 1.8 per cent after two negative quarters.

Tim Hortons’ same-store sales in Canada fell 0.2 per cent, the first decline after three quarters of positive growth in 2016.

Schwartz attributed the dip to factors including a shift in marketing programs, but said the company does not tend to focus on quarterly fluctuations. In the same period last year, Tim Hortons’ same-store sales in Canada surged 6.4 per cent. “We are here for the long run,” Schwartz said.

Financial Post

hshaw@nationalpost.com

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