February 20, 2009 / 12:54 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 3-Tim Hortons tops expectations, shares jump

* EPS C$0.38 vs C$0.40

* EPS C$0.46 excluding items related to closures

* Analysts had expected C$0.45 excluding items

* Revenue rises 9.4 percent

* Dividend boosted 11 percent

* Shares rise 8 percent (Recasts, adds stocks rising)

TORONTO, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Tim Hortons Inc THI.TO said on Friday the closure of some of its U.S. coffee shops held back its quarterly results, but its profit without a related charge exceeded analyst estimates, sending its shares up 8 percent.

Canada’s biggest restaurant chain also boosted its dividend by 11 percent to 10 Canadian cents a share even as it warned that its U.S. operations would weigh on its performance in 2009.

Net profit dropped 8.6 percent as weak sales in the United States and charges related to the closure of 11 stores in New England offset a strong quarter for its Canadian operations.

While same-store sales grew by 4.4 percent in Canada during the quarter, sales in its stores in the United States retreated by 0.1 percent. Same-store sales is a measure that strips out the impact of expansion.

The company expects same-store sales in the United States to be little changed or 2 percent higher at the most for all of 2009, as the weakening economy saps consumer confidence. Canadian same-store sales are seen rising in the range of 3 percent to 5 percent.

“I have to say that I am a little surprised by that outlook,” BMO Capital Markets analyst David Hartley said. “If indeed it comes to pass, then perhaps the Tim Hortons business is doing better than most thought in the U.S. despite there being some decline.”

The weak economy sapped consumer confidence and prompted a retreat in spending in the United States at a time when the the company was mounting an aggressive push into the market.

As a result, Tim Hortons closed stores, mostly in the New England area, and took a charge of 8 Canadian cents.

For the fourth quarter, net income dropped to C$69.1 million ($54.7 million), or 38 Canadian cents a share, from C$75.7 million, or 40 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 9.4 percent to C$563.7 million.

Analysts had expected earnings of 45 Canadian cents a share, excluding items, and revenue of C$545.8 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

By late Friday afternoon, shares of Tim Hortons were 8.08 percent higher at C$30.75.

The company targeted its 2009 capital expenditures between C$180 million and C$200 million, and said it plans to open 150 to 180 restaurants, including 120 to 140 in Canada.

It currently has 3,437 stores: 2,917 in Canada and 520 in the United States

Tim Hortons also said it was contemplating a shift in its corporate structure, converting its parent company to a Canadian corporation from a U.S. company to take advantage of a better tax rate.

$1=$1.25 Canadian Reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Rob Wilson

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