Yum Brands Inc., owner of the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC fast-food brands, said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net income rose 27 percent with robust growth overseas.
The company's operating profit in the U.S., where it has struggled as recession-weary consumers remain at home more often to eat, rose 15 percent. And Pizza Hut's sales at U.S. restaurants open at least a year — a key barometer for restaurant performance — rose 10 percent. The figure also rose for Taco Bell and KFC.
Yum reported net income of $274 million for the three months that ended Dec. 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 percent, adjusted for currency fluctuations; operating profit rose 18 percent in Yum's other international business. Across its U.S. operations, fourth-quarter operating profit rose 15 percent.
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.