DUBLIN, Ohio - Feb. 16, 2017 // PRNewswire // - The Wendy's Company (NASDAQ: WEN) today reported preliminary unaudited results for the fourth quarter and full year ended January 1, 2017. The Company plans to file its audited financial results on or before March 2, 2017.
"We have now recorded 16 consecutive quarters of positive same-restaurant sales and total new restaurant openings have accelerated in both North America and International with nearly 150 new restaurants opened globally in 2016," President and Chief Executive Officer Todd Penegor said. "As a result of our brand transformation efforts and with the support from our franchise partners, the Wendy's® system has never been stronger."
"As we look to 2017 and beyond, we are poised for strong global growth," Penegor said. "We believe we can grow the Wendy's system by approximately 1,000 restaurants and $2 billion in sales by 2020, resulting in a global system of about 7,500 restaurants generating $12 billion in sales. Importantly, this growth will be achieved in a profitable manner for both the Company and franchisees, which will help carry the momentum beyond 2020."
A summary of the Company's preliminary fourth quarter and full year 2016 results is provided below. The fourth quarter and full year 2015 results include the favorable impact of a 53rd operating week, which affects all comparisons to 2015. Due to the May 2015 sale of its bakery business, the Company has presented its bakery results as discontinued operations for all periods presented in its consolidated financial statements. See "Disclosure Regarding Non-GAAP Financial Measures" and the reconciliation tables that accompany this release for a discussion and reconciliation of certain non-GAAP financial measures included in this release (i.e., adjusted EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA margin, adjusted earnings per share, adjusted tax rate and free cash flow). As used in this release, the terms adjusted EBITDA and adjusted earnings per share refer to adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations and adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations, respectively.
"We are very proud that we were able to hold adjusted EBITDA flat year-over year despite selling a significant number of Company-operated restaurants during 2016," Chief Financial Officer Gunther Plosch said. "We look forward to realizing the positive benefits of our brand transformation in 2017 and beyond, with higher franchise revenues driving a higher quality of earnings."
The Company has completed its plan to reduce its Company-operated restaurant ownership to approximately 5 percent of the total system. The Company sold a total of 310 restaurants to franchisees during 2016, which is in addition to the 227 restaurants that were sold in the second half of 2015. In total, the third phase of system optimization generated pretax proceeds and fees of $435 million.
"Our system is stronger following the completion of the third phase of our system optimization initiative," Penegor said. "All markets were awarded to strong operators who have demonstrated a commitment to restaurant reimaging and opening new restaurants which will be imperative to our future growth."
"Going forward, we will continue to strategically buy and sell restaurants in order to further strengthen our franchisee base, drive new restaurant development and accelerate Image Activation," Penegor said. "By also facilitating franchisee-to-franchisee restaurant transfers ("Buy and Flips") we ensure that we are putting restaurants in the hands of well capitalized franchisees that are committed to long-term growth. During 2016 we facilitated 144 Buy and Flips and expect to complete around 400 in 2017, which includes approximately 50 Buy and Flips that were originally scheduled to close in late 2016."
The Company and its franchisees reimaged 521 North America system restaurants and built 99 new North America restaurants and 50 new International restaurants in 2016. Global net new restaurant openings totaled 58 in 2016. At the end of 2016, approximately 32 percent of the global system features our new image.
Board authorizes increase in quarterly dividend rate and new share repurchase program
In 2016, the Company repurchased 29.5 million shares for $335.0 million at an average price of $11.34 per share. The number of shares outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter of 2016 was approximately 246.6 million.
The Company announced today that its Board of Directors has authorized an increase of 0.5 cents per share in its quarterly dividend rate. The Company's new quarterly dividend rate of 7 cents per share will be effective with its next dividend payment on March 15, 2017 to shareholders of record as of March 1, 2017. This increase is in addition to the 0.5 cents per share increase that was authorized in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The Company also announced today that its Board of Directors authorized a new share repurchase program for up to $150 million of the Company's common stock through March 4, 2018. The Company intends to repurchase shares with existing cash on its balance sheet and cash flow from operations.
This release includes forward-looking guidance for certain non-GAAP financial measures, including adjusted EBITDA, adjusted earnings per share and adjusted tax rate. The Company excludes certain expenses and benefits from adjusted EBITDA, adjusted earnings per share and adjusted tax rate, such as impairment of long-lived assets, reorganization and realignment costs and system optimization gains, net. Due to the uncertainty and variability of the nature and amount of those expenses and benefits, the Company is unable without unreasonable effort to provide projections of net income, earnings per share or reported tax rate or a reconciliation of projected adjusted EBITDA, adjusted earnings per share or adjusted tax rate to projected net income, earnings per share or reported tax rate.
During 2017, the Company expects:
"After achieving solid results in 2016, we are pleased to turn the page with a strong outlook for 2017," Plosch said.
"This will be the final year of transition after completing the third phase of system optimization. Our ability to grow earnings and cash flow despite owning fewer Company-operated restaurants is compelling. We look forward to focusing on our core business model and driving growth even further."
Company announces updated 2020 goals
The Company now expects to achieve the following goals by the end of 2020:
"All of the updated 2020 goals revolve around growth, both in North America and International," Penegor said. "We must build upon our current operating momentum by growing our customer base, expanding brand access, enhancing restaurant level profitability and implementing a more efficient cost structure."
"In order to achieve our 2020 adjusted EBITDA margin and free cash flow commitments, G&A and capital spending efficiency will improve," Penegor said. "In that spirit, we plan to accelerate our G&A savings efforts and expect that we will be able to reduce G&A to approximately 1.5 percent of global restaurant sales by 2020. We are still in the planning stages and will provide a more detailed update on how we expect to achieve these savings on or before our first-quarter earnings call in May."
The Company intends to present its preliminary 2016 results and 2017 outlook beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET today, at its Investor Day in Dublin, Ohio. The live presentation will be available via webcast from the Investors section of the Company's website at www.aboutwendys.com. An archived webcast with the accompanying slides will be available on the Company's website at www.aboutwendys.com.
This news release contains certain statements that are not historical facts, including, most importantly, information concerning possible or assumed future results of operations of The Wendy's Company and its subsidiaries (collectively, the "Company"). Those statements, as well as statements preceded by, followed by, or that include the words "may," "believes," "plans," "expects," "anticipates," or the negation thereof, or similar expressions, constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the "Reform Act"). In addition, all statements that address future operating, financial or business performance; strategies, initiatives or expectations; future synergies, efficiencies or overhead savings; anticipated costs or charges; future capitalization; and anticipated financial impacts of recent or pending transactions are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Reform Act. The forward-looking statements are based on the Company's expectations at the time, speak only as of the dates they are made and are susceptible to a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors. The Company's actual results, performance and achievements may differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements. For all forward-looking statements, the Company claims the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Reform Act. Many important factors could affect future results and could cause those results to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such factors, all of which are difficult or impossible to predict accurately, and many of which are beyond the Company's control, include, but are not limited to:
(1) changes in the quick-service restaurant industry, such as consumer trends toward value-oriented products and promotions or toward consuming fewer meals away from home;
(2) prevailing economic, market and business conditions affecting the Company, including competition from other food service providers, unemployment and decreased consumer spending levels;
(3) the ability to effectively manage the acquisition and disposition of restaurants;
(4) cost and availability of capital;
(5) cost fluctuations associated with food, supplies, energy, fuel, distribution or labor;
(6) the financial condition of the Company's franchisees;
(7) food safety events, including instances of food-borne illness involving the Company or its supply chain;
(8) conditions beyond the Company's control such as weather, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, epidemics or pandemics impacting the Company's customers or food supplies, or acts of war or terrorism;
(9) risks associated with failures, interruptions or security breaches of the Company's computer systems or technology, or the occurrence of cyber incidents or a deficiency in cyber security that impacts the Company or its franchisees, including the cybersecurity incident previously announced;
(10) the effects of negative publicity that can occur from increased use of social media;
(11) the availability of suitable locations and terms for the development of new restaurants;
(12) risks associated with the Image Activation program;
(13) adoption of new, or changes in, laws, regulations or accounting standards, policies and practices;
(14) changes in debt, equity and securities markets;
(15) goodwill and long-lived asset impairments;
(16) changes in interest rates;
(17)the difficulty in predicting the ultimate costs associated with the sale of Company-operated restaurants to franchisees, including the impact of the sale of restaurants on ongoing operations, any tax impact from the sale of restaurants and the future impact to the Company's earnings, restaurant operating margins, cash flow and depreciation;
(18) risks associated with the Company's debt refinancing, including the ability to generate sufficient cash flow to meet increased debt service obligations, compliance with operational and financial covenants, and restrictions on the Company's ability to raise additional capital;
(19) risks associated with the amount and timing of share repurchases under the $150 million share repurchase program approved by the Board of Directors; and
(20) other factors cited in the Company's news releases, public statements and/or filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those identified in the "Risk Factors" sections of the Company's Forms 10-K and 10-Q.
The Company's franchisees are independent third parties that the Company does not control. Numerous factors beyond the control of the Company and its franchisees may affect new restaurant openings. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that commitments under development agreements with franchisees will result in new restaurant openings. In addition, numerous factors beyond the control of the Company and its franchisees may affect franchisees' ability to reimage existing restaurants in accordance with the Company's expectations.
All future written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to the Company or any person acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained or referred to above. New risks and uncertainties arise from time to time, and it is impossible for the Company to predict these events or their impact.
The Company assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or developments, except as required by federal securities laws. The Company does not endorse any projections regarding future performance that may be made by third parties.
There can be no assurance that any additional regular quarterly cash dividends will be declared or paid after the date hereof, or of the amount or timing of such dividends, if any. Future dividend payments, if any, are subject to applicable law, will be made at the discretion of the Board of Directors and will be based on such factors as The Wendy's Company's earnings, financial condition and cash requirements and other factors.
In addition to the GAAP financial measures presented in this release, the Company has included certain non-GAAP financial measures in this release, including adjusted EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA margin, adjusted earnings per share and adjusted tax rate. These non-GAAP financial measures exclude certain expenses and benefits as detailed in the reconciliation tables that accompany this release. The Company uses these non-GAAP financial measures as internal measures of business operating performance and as performance measures for benchmarking against the Company's peers and competitors. Adjusted EBITDA and adjusted earnings per share are also used by the Company in establishing performance goals for purposes of executive compensation.
The Company believes its presentation of adjusted EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA margin, adjusted earnings per share and adjusted tax rate provides a meaningful perspective of the underlying operating performance of our current business and enables investors to better understand and evaluate our historical and prospective operating performance. The Company believes these non-GAAP financial measures are important supplemental measures of operating performance because they eliminate items that vary from period to period without correlation to our core operating performance and highlight trends in our business that may not otherwise be apparent when relying solely on GAAP financial measures. Due to the nature and/or size of the items being excluded, such items do not reflect future gains, losses, expenses or benefits and are not indicative of our future operating performance. The Company believes investors, analysts and other interested parties use adjusted EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA margin, adjusted earnings per share and adjusted tax rate in evaluating issuers, and the presentation of these measures facilitates a comparative assessment of the Company's operating performance in addition to the Company's performance based on GAAP results.
This release also includes guidance regarding the Company's free cash flow. Free cash flow is a non-GAAP financial measure that is used by the Company as an internal measure of liquidity. The Company defines free cash flow as cash flows from operations minus capital expenditures, both as reported under GAAP. The Company believes free cash flow is an important liquidity measure for investors and other interested persons because it communicates how much cash flow is available for working capital needs or to be used for repurchasing shares, paying dividends, repaying or refinancing debt, financing possible acquisitions or investments or other uses of cash.
Adjusted EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA margin, adjusted earnings per share, adjusted tax rate and free cash flow are not recognized terms under U.S. General Accepted Accounting Principles, and the Company's presentation of these non-GAAP financial measures does not replace the presentation of the Company's financial results in accordance with GAAP. Because all companies do not calculate adjusted EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA margin, adjusted earnings per share, adjusted tax rate and free cash flow (and similarly titled financial measures) in the same way, those measures as used by other companies may not be consistent with the way the Company calculates such measures. The non-GAAP financial measures included in this release should not be construed as substitutes for or better indicators of the Company's performance than the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures.
The Company tracks its results of operations and manages its business using certain key business measures, including North America system same-restaurant sales. North America system same-restaurant sales includes sales by both Company-operated restaurants and franchise restaurants located in the U.S. and Canada. The Company reports same-restaurant sales for new restaurants after they have been open for 15 continuous months and for reimaged restaurants as soon as they reopen. This methodology is consistent with the metric used by management for internal reporting and analysis. Prior to the first quarter of 2016, the Company reported same-restaurant sales for reimaged restaurants after they had been open for three continuous months. Same-restaurant sales exclude the impact of currency translation.
Same-restaurant sales is a commonly used statistical measure in the quick-service restaurant industry that is important to understanding Company performance. The Company believes North America system same-restaurant sales data is useful in assessing consumer demand for the Company's products, the overall strength of the Wendy's brand and, ultimately, the performance of the Company. Sales by franchise restaurants to their customers are not recorded as Company revenues and are not included in the Company's consolidated financial statements. However, the Company's royalty revenues are computed as percentages of sales made by Wendy's franchisees and, as a result, sales by franchisees have a direct effect on the Company's royalty revenues and therefore on the Company's profitability.
The Wendy's Company is the world's third-largest quick-service hamburger company. The Wendy's system includes approximately 6,500 franchise and Company-operated restaurants in the United States and 30 countries and U.S. territories worldwide. For more information, visit www.aboutwendys.com.
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SOURCE The Wendy's Company
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