What happened

Shares of Restaurant Brands International (NYSE:QSR), the parent of Burger King, Tim Horton's, and Popeye's, were flying higher last month as the fast-food giant turned in strong comparable-sales growth in the fourth quarter and raised its dividend. Like much of the market, the stock also seemed to get a boost from the broader recovery in stocks over January.

According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, the stock finished the month up 20%. The chart below shows the stock got a big boost on Jan. 23 when the company announced comparable sales for the fourth quarter:

QSR Chart

QSR data by YCharts.

So what

Restaurant Brands shares jumped 10% on Jan. 23 as the company said comparable sales were up 1.9% at Tim Horton's, 1.7% at Burger King, and 0.1% at Popeye's. Both the Tim Horton and Burger King numbers, from RBI's two biggest chains, represented accelerations from the third quarter.

A blurred image of a fast-food restaurant

Image source: Getty Images.

The company also continued its aggressive expansion as it added more than 1,300 net restaurants in 2018, bringing its total to 25,744, up 5.5% on a year-over-year basis.

Management also raised its quarterly dividend from $0.45 to $0.50 a share, giving the stock a 3.2% dividend yield, and the company shook up its top ranks in a surprising move. CEO Daniel Schwartz, who rose to acclaim as the force behind Burger King's turnaround earlier in the decade, is moving on to the executive chairmanship, though he promised he would be "way more active" than the average chairman, and that he will look into potential mergers and acquisitions. Jose Cil, the president of Burger King, is becoming CEO of RBI, and will focus on global growth of the brand. Finally, Josh Kobza was promoted to chief operating officer.

The company, one of the biggest restaurant operators in the world, believes these promotions will help it accelerate global growth.

Check out the latest RBI earnings call transcript.

Now what

Restaurant Brands will release its full fourth-quarter report on Feb. 11; analysts expect revenue to grow 14.4% to $1.15 billion, and earnings per share to jump from $0.36 to $0.56.

While many restaurant chains have struggled domestically, RBI, which is nearly entirely franchised, has found solid growth by expanding abroad. And the company could acquire another restaurant chain in the not-too-distant future.