Yum Brands Sales Up 4 Percent, Better Than Expected

Yum Brands Inc. (YUM), parent of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell fast-food chains, on Wednesday said sales at its U.S. restaurants open at least a year rose 4 percent in the latest four-week period.

Three Wall Street analysts had been expecting a rise of 2 percent to 3 percent, according to research reports.

The company also stood by its 2005 earnings forecast of at least $2.60 a share. Analysts on average forecast $2.63 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Same-store sales, a key retail measure, rose 1 percent at Pizza Hut (search), 4 percent at Taco Bell (search), and 7 percent at KFC (search) in the four weeks ended May 14, Yum said in a statement.

International sales, excluding China, rose 10 percent in the four weeks ended April 18, helped by weakness in the dollar, which boosts the dollar value of sales in other currencies.

China sales fell 4 percent in the four weeks ended April 30 after the company had to temporarily withdraw some items that contained a dye that was banned for use because of concerns it could increase the risk of cancer.

The items are now back on the menu and the company said it expects flat sales in China in the May sales period.