Breakfast launch forecast is ‘speculation’

Wendy’s: breakfast launch forecast is ‘speculation’

NEW YORK — A restaurant analyst here, while upgrading his rating on Wendy’s International stock to “outperform,” forecast that the No. 3 burger chain’s franchisees could roll out a breakfast program this year as the brand downplays its 99cent menu.

However, Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy’s branded as “speculation” the breakfast launch outlook by analyst Howard Penney of Friedman Billings Ramsey. Penney, in rerating Wendy’s stock from “underperform,” predicted that “in 2005 two big themes for Wendy’s system will be breakfast for franchisees and less focus on the 99-cent menu.”

A Wendy’s spokesman acknowledged that the company has “said over the years that breakfast is a long-term opportunity for us.” The burger chain introduced a national breakfast menu in July 1985, but it was phased out as a systemwide program several years later, the spokesman said.

According to Penney, ” … it is time for Wendy’s to get into the breakfast business.” He said the chain’s “recent sales trends have improved,” estimating that the burger chain’s January same-store sales were flat, compared with their 5-percent decrease in the prior year’s fourth quarter.

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