Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM) reported fourth-quarter results that beat Wall Street’s expectations on Monday, fueled by strong sales in the emerging markets, particularly in China, where the company opened 656 new stores.  The company said emerging markets contributed 50% of operating profit at Yum International.

The parent company for KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell reported net income of $356 million or 75 cents a share, up from last year’s profit of $274 million, or 63 cents a share.

Revenue rose to $4.11 billion, compared to sales of $3.56 billion in the year-ago quarter.  Same-store sales in the U.S. rose 1%, while same-store sales in China soared 21%, compared to last year. On a global basis, worldwide system sales grew 11%.

“We continue to focus on three key elements that drive the value of our company: new-unit development, samestore sales growth, and high returns,” David C. Novak, Chairman and CEO said, in a statement.  “Our new-unit potential in emerging markets is arguably the best in the restaurant industry.”

The Street was looking earnings of 74 cents a share on revenue of $4.03 billion for the fast-food chain, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Novak boasted that the company is “well-positioned” to meet or best its annual 10% earnings-per-share growth target in 2012.

Shares of Yum fell 65 cents in Monday’s session, closing at $63.19 a share.  The stock was up $1.61, or 2.5%, in after-hours trading, and shares are up 17% since last November.