Burger King's U.S. Sales Declines Slow With Passing of Winter Storms

Burger King Holdings Inc., the second-largest U.S. hamburger seller, said North American sales declines slowed in March after record snowfall kept customers away earlier in the year.

Sales at U.S. and Canadian locations dropped 2 percent last month, after declining 8.2 percent in January and February, the Miami-based company said today in a statement. Customer visits also improved in March, Burger King said.

The next few months will be “a tug of war,” Mark Kalinowski, a restaurant analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, said in a telephone interview. Results will depend on how much the chain can boost traffic with new items like breakfast bowls and ribs in a “challenging consumer environment,” said New York-based Kalinowski, who rates the shares “neutral.”

For the quarter, U.S. and Canada comparable-store sales fell 6.1 percent. Global sales declined 3.7 percent on that basis.

Net income in the quarter fell to $41 million, or 30 cents a share, from $47.1 million, or 34 cents, a year earlier, the company said today in a regulatory filing. Total revenue declined less than 1 percent to $596.9 million.

Analysts predicted earnings of 29 cents a share on sales of $597 million, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant company, said April 21 that its first-quarter profit climbed 11 percent as comparable-store sales rose in the U.S. and Europe.

Burger King rose 73 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $21.42 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. McDonald’s, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, added $1.18 to $71.52.

To contact the reporter on this story: Burt Helm in New York at bhelm3@bloomberg.net

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