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Tim Hortons owner eyes U.S. expansion, sees big jump in profit

CEO says coffee chain should be 'many, many times' its current size in the U.S.

The parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King sees fertile ground for rapid expansion for both chains in the United States, regardless of uncertainty around what policies U.S. President Donald Trump will implement during his tenure.

The United States is "one of the biggest opportunities" for expanding the coffee and burger chains, said Daniel Schwartz, CEO of Restaurant Brands International, in an interview.

Tim Hortons had 683 U.S. locations as of Dec. 31, 2016, according to financial documents. Burger King's U.S. operations had more than 7,000 restaurants as of Dec. 31, 2015, according to the most recent filing that separates the U.S. from other markets.

Schwartz said Tim Hortons "should be many, many times our current size" in the United States, but added there's no target number.

He said the plan had not changed since Trump's election in November or several controversial executive orders the president had signed since moving into the White House in January.

"We want to expand our brands all around the world and that also doesn't change based on the political environment," Schwartz said.

RBI is also intent on rapidly expanding Tim Hortons around the world, signing three separate master franchise joint venture agreements to bring the chain to the Philippines, Great Britain and Mexico. The company expects to open the first locations in some of those markets this year, said chief financial officer Josh Kobza.

Schwartz is the latest head of a major Canadian company to offer insight on how they view Trump's election, with many seeing his expected policies as positive for their bottom lines.

Last week, the CEOs of Air Canada and WestJet Airlines both expressed hope the airline industry in Canada could benefit from Trump's policies.

RBI's CEO made his comments the same day the company served up a big jump in profit.

Its net income for the 12 months ended Dec. 31 more than tripled to US$345.6 million including US$118.4 million in the fourth quarter.

The full-year profit, reported in U.S. currency, was up from $103.9 million in 2015 and fourth-quarter net income was up from $51.7 million.

RBI said its full-year revenue was up 2.3%, while revenue in the fourth quarter was up 5.2% year-over-year.

Total revenue for 2016 was US$4.15 billion, including US$1.11 billion in the fourth quarter. Revenue in 2015 was $4.05 billion, including $1.06 billion in that year's fourth quarter.

Tim Hortons accounted for US$3.00 billion of RBI's total annual revenue, while Burger King contributed $1.14 billion for the year.

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