"It's good to be the king," Mel Brooks said 26 years ago in History of the World: Part I.
Apparently, it's pretty good to be Burger King
The world's second-largest burger chain posted better-than-expected fiscal first-quarter results this morning, with earnings climbing 17% to $0.35 per share. Revenue inched 10% higher to hit $602 million. Whopper-chomping analysts were only looking for a profit of $0.33 a share on $597 million in revenue.
Comps were strong, rising by 5.9% during the quarter. It's the best store-level sales growth spurt in the past 10 quarters. Comps have now been positive for 15 consecutive quarters.
Burger King is back in favor as a franchise concept. Unlike Wendy's
Burger King scored well during the quarter with its tie-in promotions. Kids' meal premiums were tied to hot properties like Hasbro's Transformers and Microsoft's Viva Pinata lines. The big winner, though, was News Corp.'s The Simpsons.
It doesn't get any better than having the gluttonous Homer Simpson pitching your extreme burgers. The company also had a viral hit with its Simponsize Me website, where more than 40 million digital snapshots were uploaded and transformed into Springfield residents.
Burger King even outdid Wendy's on the Halloween front. During this morning's conference call, the company claimed that it sold "tens of thousands" of Burger King masks and costumes through its online store and novelty retailers.
Compare that to Wendy's, which just didn't wake up in time to offer Wendy's wigs en masse for Halloween. I should know. I went to several places looking for one. As much as I hate the red-wig ads, I though I had the perfect costume idea. I was going to don the red wig and cut a finger-sized hole out of a large Wendy's chili container to create the "mummy finger" effect. It didn't happen.
With 11,200 units, roughly 90% of them franchised, a lot is at stake in this turnaround. Burger King continues to convince its franchisees to stay open longer. It once had a gap of 20 operating hours a week relative to titan McDonald's
Unfortunately for investors, the shares didn't rise on today's great report. Why? Well, a consortium of the private equity firms that took Burger King public last year announced a secondary offering to sell 23 million of their shares. The move won't be dilutive. It's also beyond the company's control. In fact, BK has been buying shares this year. However, the glut of upcoming shares is enough to keep near-term gains in check.
So, sure, it's great to be the king, even if it can't control the cash-out impulses within its kingdom.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does patronize Burger King often, as it's a local company, but he often wonders why it doesn't follow Wendy's in offering up fat-free salad dressing choices. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.