Shares of Wendy’s (NASDAQ: WEN) dropped 8.3% on Thursday after the fast-food chain announced solid fourth-quarter 2019 results, but followed with disappointing forward guidance.
To be sure, Wendy’s quarterly revenue grew 7.4% year over year to $427.2 million, translating to adjusted (non-GAAP) net income of $0.08 per share (down from $0.16 per share a year earlier). Analysts, on average, were expecting roughly the same adjusted earnings on slightly lower revenue of $425 million.
“We delivered a very strong year of sales growth and have laid the foundation in 2019 to set the Wendy’s brand up for future success,” stated Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor. “We have momentum in our business as evidenced by our accelerating sales growth in the second half of the year, which sets us up well going into 2020.”
Penegor added that the company will focus on three primary “growth pillars,” including entering the breakfast daypart, boosting digital sales, and expanding internationally.
For the full year of 2020, however, Wendy’s told investors to expect global systemwide sales of $12 billion to $12.5 billion — up from roughly $10.94 billion in 2019 — and adjusted earnings per share of $0.60 to $0.62. Most analysts were modeling higher 2020 adjusted earnings of $0.65 per share.
Of course, it certainly didn’t help that the broader markets also plunged today, with all major indexes falling more than 4%. But given Wendy’s light earnings outlook for the coming year, it was no surprise to see this consumer discretionary stock pulling back even more today.