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Wendy's International on Friday reported a 15 percent decline in fourth-quarter profits because of a one-time charge for closing the company's unprofitable Argentina restaurants. Wendy's, which operates the world's third-largest hamburger chain, reported net income of $34.4 million, or 29 cents a share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $40.5 million, or 33 cents a share, for the same quarter in 1999. Without the charge, net income would have increased 13 percent to $46 million, or 39 cents a share were 39 cents. "Our fourth quarter performance, excluding the charge, was better than expected due in large part to Tim Hortons' very strong results in Canada and good cost controls in all areas of our business," said Kerrii Anderson, executive vice president and chief financial officer. Fourth-quarter revenue increased 7.6 percent to $572.3 million from $532.1 million a year ago. Same-store sales grew nearly 3.2 percent for the quarter at Wendy's restaurants and 13 percent at Tim Hortons coffee-and-doughnut restaurants in the United States. For the year ended Dec. 31, Wendy's earned $169.6 million, or $1.44 a share, up from $166.6 million, or $1.32 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. Sales increased 8.2 percent to a record $2.24 billion from $2.07 billion. The company opened a record 552 stores during the year. It has 5,792 Wendy's restaurants internationally and 1,980 Tim Hortons.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., the second-largest U.S. tiremaker, said fourth-quarter profit fell because of high raw material costs and a slower economy. Net income fell to $6.3 million or 9 cents a share, from $31.5 million or 42 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Revenue rose 17 percent to $819.8 million from $701.2 million. ire industry profits have been hurt because tire prices have changed little as the cost of raw materials has increased. Oil- based products account for about a quarter of production costs. In October Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper Tire said it would fire 1,100 workers and close, sell or consolidate plants and offices to cut costs. To date, it has closed three plants and 200 jobs have been cut. It plans to close or downsize 22 plants by the end of 2001, the company said. The latest quarter includes a pretax charge of $37 million for restructuring and other charges. Excluding those charges, the company said it would earn $29 million or 41 cents a share.

Hasbro Inc. plans to cut 100 more jobs after poor sales of Pokemon, Furby and Star Wars products led to a loss of $180.1 million in the last three months of last year. The nation's second biggest toy company said the latest cuts would involve jobs overseas and would be in addition to its plans announced between October and December to cut a total of 750 jobs. Hasbro, which also makes the Playskool, Tonka and Milton Bradley brands, employs about 10,000 people worldwide. Hasbro's loss was $1.05 a share in the three months ended Dec. 31 compared to a profit of $57.7 million, or 29 cents a share, in the same period last year. Sales for the quarter sank to $1.2 billion from $1.6 billion a year ago.

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