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Burger King's Quarter Well Done


Fast food chain beats the estimates.

On Thursday, Burger King (BKC) reported its fourth-quarter numbers. The Florida-based chain reported a profit of $51 million or 37 cents a share. That's markedly north of the $36 million or $0.26 per share it earned in the same period last year, and $0.03 north of what analysts had been expecting.

Burger King says extended hours and a new Steakhouse hamburger helped to boost profits.
However, I think the fact that Burger King has made something of a habit of turning in upside surprises may have already been factored into the share price.
Its worldwide comp sales results were also up 5.3% in the quarter; in last year's fourth-quarter, worldwide comps increased 4.4% - very "McDonaldsesque," for lack of a better word. McDonald's (MCD) has been ripping the cover off the ball: In its second quarter, it posted a 6.1% jump in global comps.)
There was, however, a downside: "Worldwide company restaurant margins decreased 170 basis points -- to 13.1% from 14.8% -- in the fourth quarter, and by 70 basis points -- to 14.3% from 15.0% for the full fiscal year." In short, lofty commodity costs took their toll.
170 basis points is a pretty big hit, and it's more dramatic than what the chain experienced for the full year.

CFO Ben Wells did say that the board believes that commodity prices have now peaked. Burger King therefore projects that costs will drop 2% to 3% over the next 6 months.

I, however, would keep a close eye on this, because further margin erosion could mean problems.

In sun, though the margin number is some cause for concern, Burger King's comp sales number and ability to exceed Street expectations are encouraging. My gut tells me that the shares are probably a bit oversold here.

Burger King closed at $25.50, down $1.95 or 7.1%.
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