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A man walks out of the Tim Hortons coffee shop at Church Street and Adelaide Street East in Toronto on Oct. 21, 2020.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Restaurant Brands International Inc on Thursday missed quarterly profit estimates and posted a drop in comparable sales at its Burger King and Popeyes chains as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases slowed customer traffic to its outlets.

The company’s U.S.-listed shares slipped 4.3 per cent to $57.51.

The reinstatement of virus restrictions in many parts of the world led to temporary dining room closures and curfews, which kept people from venturing out to get their fast-food fix and weakened the recovery process for a battered hospitality sector.

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Burger King posted a 7.9 per cent fall in fourth-quarter comparable sales, while analysts had forecast a minor gain.

Popeyes saw its comparable sales fall 5.8 per cent as the chain struggled to repeat the explosive initial growth of its social-media favorite chicken sandwich, which was launched in the latter half of 2019.

The Popeyes sandwich also faces a threat from rivals such as McDonald’s Corp, which is rolling out three versions of its own fried-chicken sandwich.

Comparable sales at Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee chain that typically accounts for more than half of Restaurant Brands’ revenue, slumped 11 per cent as fresh lockdowns disrupted consumers’ normal routines and kept them from getting their morning Joe. However, the numbers were slightly better than analysts’ expectations of an 11.7 per cent drop.

“Breakfast remains significantly impacted at Tims Canada and Burger King U.S., especially in core urban areas,” Chief Executive Officer Jose Cil said.

As vaccines begin to roll out, Chief Corporate Officer Duncan Fulton told Reuters that he is optimistic the traffic at outlets would begin to improve.

Excluding items, the company earned 53 cents per share, compared with estimates of 65 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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Total revenue in the reported quarter fell 8.2 per cent to $1.36 billion, but beat estimates of $1.33 billion.

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