Wendy's (NYSE:WEN), the nation's third-largest burger chain, reported September same-store sales growth of 3.5% at both its company-owned and franchised Wendy's restaurants. In addition, the Tim Hortons unit reported accelerated growth in same-store sales of 6.5% in Canada and 6.9% in the U.S.

This is particularly notable in the face of McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) increasingly focused operation and new products -- namely the McGriddles breakfast sandwiches and Premium Salads. The salads, in particular, take aim at one of Wendy's competitive advantages.

Wendy's also completed a previously announced purchase of 68 franchise-owned and operated Wendy's restaurants (expected to be neutral to earnings in 2003 and accretive in 2004). While in a fitting gesture, the company sold its 15 Wendy's restaurants in the Columbus, Ohio market to the family of late founder, Dave Thomas.

According to CEO Jack Schuessler, "Dave founded Wendy's in Columbus and this will enable the Thomas family to continue to be part of Dave's legacy in our hometown." Nice touch. The sale is expected to add a penny to the company's fourth quarter earnings.

During the third quarter, Wendy's also repurchased 284,000 of common stock at an average $29.58 per share. Since 1998, the company has repurchased $878 million in shares. More nice touch. The stock now trades at $34 a share for a total market cap of $3.86 billion.

You can reach Jeff Hwang at JHwang@Fool.com .