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Yum sees strong growth overseas
The West Australian Yum sees strong growth overseas

Yum Brands, owner of the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC fast-food brands, said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net income rose 27 per cent with robust growth overseas.

The company's operating profit in the US, where it has struggled as recession-weary consumers remain at home more often to eat, rose 15 per cent.

And Pizza Hut's sales at US restaurants open at least a year - a key barometer for restaurant performance - rose 10 per cent.

The figure also rose for Taco Bell and KFC.

Yum reported net income of $274 million for the three months that ended December 25, or 56 cents per share.

That compares with $216 million, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier.

The Louisville-based company's fourth-quarter revenue was $3.56 billion, up from $3.37 billion.

The results beat analysts' expectations in some respects and fell short in others. Yum shares closed at $47.73, up 31 cents, before the report was released. The stock rose another $1.28, or 2.7 percent, to $49.01 after hours.

Analysts expected Yum to earn 60 cents per share on revenue of $3.51 billion for the quarter, according to FactSet.

Analysts typically exclude one-time items.

For the full year, the company reported net income of nearly $1.16 billion, or $2.38 per share, compared with $1.07 billion, or $2.22 per share, in 2009. Its revenue was $11.34 billion, up from $10.84 billion in 2009.

Analysts were expecting earnings of $2.82 per share on revenue of $11.82 billion for the year, according to FactSet.

Chairman and CEO David C. Novak said 2010 was "perhaps our best year as a public company."

"As we enter 2011, we know that we face commodity inflation and a global economy that is still recovering," he said in a statement.

In its crucial China business, fourth-quarter operating profit rose 15 per cent, adjusted for currency fluctuations; operating profit rose 18 per cent in Yum's other international business. Across its US operations, fourth-quarter operating profit rose 15 per cent.

Yum recently announced that it is putting its Long John Silver's and A&W restaurant chains up for sale so it can focus on its growing international business.