Yum, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, approves $1B stock buyback plan

Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, said Thursday that its board approved a $1 billion stock buyback plan.

The buyback program runs through May 2016. Yum also said it has bought 9.4 million shares, worth $691 million, this year.

Buying back stock can help a company boost its earnings per share.

Yum shares edged up 24 cents in aftermarket trading, after closing up $1.54, or 2.1 percent, at $75.71.

Yum Brands Inc. last month cut its profit forecast for the year, citing the latest food scare in China that pummeled sales at KFC, its flagship chain in the country. Yum gets 35 percent of its operating profit from China.

In the U.S., performance has been mixed for Yum's three chains. Taco Bell's sales rose 3 percent at established locations in the latest quarter, with the launch of a national breakfast menu lifting results. The figure rose 2 percent at KFC and fell 2 percent at Pizza Hut, which has been struggling for several quarters.

The pizza chain recently announced a menu overhaul executives are hoping will help boost performance.

Yum, based in Louisville, Kentucky, has more than 40,000 restaurants around the world.