San Diego-based Jack in the Box reported better than expected profits for its 2011 fiscal fourth quarter ended Oct. 2, and improved annual profits on Nov. 21.

For the fourth quarter, the fast food chain reported net income of $22.7 million or 49 cents a share, up from $4 million or 7 cents a share in the like quarter of 2010.

Analysts had expected net profit of 41 cents per share, and revenue of $492 million.

Revenue came in at $504 million, down from $563 million in the prior year’s fourth quarter.

Chief Executive Officer Linda Lang said the company’s same store sales rose 5.8 percent in the quarter, ahead of expectations, driven by an 8.5 percent increase in traffic.

For the full year, the company had net earnings of $80.6 million, compared with $70.2 million in the prior fiscal year. Revenue for the full year was $2.19 billion, down from $2.3 billion in the 2010 fiscal year.

Jack in the Box continued to sell off its company-owned stores in the last quarter, a process it calls refranchising. A total of 106 restaurants were sold, resulting in a gain of $22.2 million in the quarter. For the fiscal year, it sold 332 restaurants to franchisees for $61.1 million.

Lang said in the last six years the company sold more than 1,000 restaurants, and expects to sell another 150 to 200 in the next few years, bringing the franchised-owned restaurants to 80 percent of all its eateries.

Jack in the Box forecast fiscal 2012 net profit per share of $1.10 to $1.43, reflecting uncertainty in timing of some refranchised sales and increased commodity costs.

— Mike Allen