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Dunkin' Brands 4Q earnings top Wall Street view

CANTON, Mass. (AP) -- The parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins said Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income nearly tripled as more customers headed to its shops and spent more there.

Its adjusted results beat Wall Street's expectations, and shares rose before the market opened.

Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. earned $34.3 million, or 32 cents per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 29. That compares with $11.6 million, or 10 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, earnings were 34 cents per share in the recent quarter. Analysts forecast earnings of 33 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue slipped 4 percent to $161.7 million from $168.5 million. The year-ago period included an extra week and there was a one-time delay in recognizing revenue tied to a manufacturing shift to Dean Foods that hurt quarterly sales of ice cream products.

Wall Street expected revenue of $170.8 million.

Sales at Dunkin' Donuts shops in the U.S. open 54 weeks or more climbed 3.2 percent in the quarter. That is a key gauge of retail health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Coffee sales continued to be strong, with iced espresso and flavored hot drinks leading the way. Its smoked sausage breakfast sandwich, a limited time offer in November, also performed well. Sales of breakfast and bakery sandwiches, as well as sales of Dunkin' Donuts K-Cup packs in pumpkin, peppermint mocha and hot coca, were solid.

At Baskin-Robbins U.S. locations open 54 weeks or longer, sales rose 1.5 percent. That was largely due to its Flavors of the Month, which included holiday offerings like pumpkin pie, peppermint and winter white chocolate. The performance was also helped by limited-time sundaes like warm Belgian waffle with pralines n' cream ice cream and take home pints and quarts.

For the year Dunkin' Brands earned $108.3 million, or 93 cents per share. In 2011 the Canton, Mass., company made $34.4 million with a loss of $1.41 per share.

Adjusted earnings were $1.28 per share in 2012.

Annual revenue rose 5 percent to $658.2 million.

For fiscal 2013, Dunkin' Brands expects adjusted earnings of $1.48 to $1.51 per share. Revenue is expected to climb 6 to 8 percent. Based on 2012's $658.2 million, that implies $698 million to $710.6 million.

Analysts predict full-year earnings of $1.52 per share on revenue of $715.7 million.

The company also said sales at Dunkin' Donuts U.S. locations open 54 weeks or more should be up 3 to 4 percent in 2013 and up 1 to 3 percent for Baskin-Robbins.

The company also will pay a first-quarter dividend of 19 cents per share, which is a 27 percent increase over the payout in the previous quarter. It will be paid on Feb. 20 to shareholders of record on Feb. 11.

Dunkin' Brands had more than 10,400 Dunkin' Donuts restaurants and nearly 7,000 Baskin-Robbins restaurants at the end of last year.

The company's stock rose 72 cents, or 2 percent, to $36.50 in premarket trading.