Yum says 4th-qtr sales at established China restaurants to fall

Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:41pm EST

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Yum Brands Inc said on Thursday it expects to post a decline in fourth-quarter sales at established restaurants in China, where a cooling economy is making it difficult to exceed the strong gain it reported a year earlier.

Yum said fourth quarter same-restaurant sales are expected to be down 4 percent in China. Those sales are expected to rise 4 percent at Yum Restaurants International and 3 percent in the United States.

The shares of the parent of the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut chains, which gets more than half of its profits from China, tumbled 7.6 percent to $68.84 in extended trading.

"For the fourth quarter, stronger-than-expected operating performance from Yum Restaurants International and our U.S. division is offsetting softer sales in China," Yum Chairman and Chief Executive David Novak said in a statement.

Yum expects to open at least 800 new restaurants in China in this year and Novak said the company's prospects there remain bright.

"Next year will be another strong year for our China division. We are extremely confident Yum China remains the best growth story in the restaurant industry," Novak said.

Yum also forecast 2013 earnings per share growth of at least 10 percent. It repeated its call for 2012 earnings per share growth of at least 13 percent, or $3.24 per share, excluding special items.

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