Yum Brands profit edges up in 4Q

Yum Brands 4th-qtr profit edges up as sales grow overseas despite slower US sales

Growth in China helped fast-food operator Yum Brands Inc. make up for falling U.S. sales and boosted its fourth-quarter profit, the company said Wednesday.

The operator of Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and other fast-food brands reported that it earned $216 million, or 45 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 26. That’s up from $204 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.

Adjusting for several one-time items, the company earned 50 cents per share, up from 46 cents per share. Its revenue fell 1 percent to $3.37 billion.

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On average, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who generally exclude one-time items from their estimates, expected the company to earn 48 cents per share on revenue of $3.34 billion.

Yum’s U.S. sales have fallen during the economic downturn as competition toughened and consumers cut back on eating out.

In the fourth quarter, Yum’s domestic revenue fell 15 percent, while its sales in China grew 17 percent and its other international sales grew 3 percent.

For the full year, the company earned $1.07 billion, or $2.22 per share, compared with $964 million, or $1.96 per share, in the prior year. Excluding several one-time items, the company earned $2.17 per share for fiscal 2009, up from $1.91 the prior year.

4 percent to $10.8 billion.

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Analysts expected Yum to report it earned $2.16 per share for the year on revenue of $10.8 billion.

Shares of Yum fell 34 cents to $35.00 in after-hours trading Wednesday.

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