Popeyes posts fourth-quarter sales decline

Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises Inc., the franchisor and operator of Popeyes restaurants, this week posted a fourth-quarter sales decline. "Same-store sales" at stores opened at least a year shrank 1 percent across the world. That was a smaller pace of decline than in the same period a year before, when sales fell 2. 1 percent. The company attributed the improvement in part to advertising focused on affordable menu options. Despite the sales decline, the company said it is outperforming the fast-food industry as a whole and gaining market share in the U.S. AFC said it expects its reported earnings in 2009 to be at the "upper end" of $0.66-$0.70 per diluted share, a drop from earnings of $0.76 per share in 2008.  Popeyes is the world's second-largest quick-service restaurant chicken concept, based on number of units.