KFC owner Yum Brands hurt by loss of appetite for Pizza Hut

Diners turn away from once-favoured fast food chain everywhere, pulling down earnings even as fried chicken and Taco Bell finds more favour.

KFC signage at a branch in London. Owner Yum Brands has reported a fall in profit off the back of waning sales at Pizza Hut,
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Yum Brands, the owner of KFC and Taco Bell, has reported a lower than expected rise in quarterly sales at established restaurants worldwide as fewer diners ate at its Pizza Hut chain.

Sales at restaurants open for at least one year rose 1 per cent in the fourth quarter ended December 31, compared with a 2.1 per cent rise analysts polled by Consensus Metrix had expected.

Same-store sales rose 3 per cent at KFC and Taco Bell, but this was tempered by a 2 per cent decline at Pizza Hut.

“KFC and Taco Bell had relatively strong performance in December, despite difficult US industry conditions,” said the chief financial officer David Gibbs.

US restaurant chains have been struggling with competition from convenience stores, supermarkets and meal-kit delivery services such as Blue Apron and Chefd.

Minimum wage increases have also forced restaurants to raise menu prices while supermarkets have been able to pass on lower food costs to shoppers.

The latest-quarter results are Yum’s first since spinning off its China business in November.

Yum’s income from continuing operations fell to US$285 million in the quarter from $290m a year earlier.

Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations was 76 cents per share compared with 66 cents per share. Earnings excluding special items was 79 cents per share.

Total revenue rose 2 per cent to $2.02 billion.

Analysts on average had estimated sales of $2.09bn, according to Reuters.


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