Yum sales surprise, up on strength in China

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Yum Brands Inc <YUM.N>, the parent of the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut fast-food chains, reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales, boosted by growth in China, helping to send its shares up 4.9 percent in after-hours


Yum, based in Louisville, Kentucky, said sales rose 13 percent at existing restaurants in China. It also opened 92 new restaurants in China, which has the world's biggest population.

Same-store sales in the United States fell 1 percent after negative press about following a lawsuit regarding the beef used at Taco Bell. The lawsuit was later dropped.

Net income was $264 million, or 54 cents per share, in the first quarter, ended on March 19, compared with $241 million, or 50 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, profit was 63 cents per share. Analysts on average were expecting 64 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue was $2.43 billion, compared to $2.35 billion a year earlier and analysts' estimates of $2.40 billion.

The company affirmed its previous 2011 earnings growth target of "at least 10 percent," excluding special items, which translated to $2.78 per share.

Yum shares rose 4.9 percent to $54.07 in after-hours trading from their close at $51.55 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller; editing by Andre Grenon)