Yum Brands Inc. (YUM), owner of the KFC and Taco Bell fast-food chains, on Wednesday said third-quarter earnings rose nearly 16 percent on strong sales in the United States and growth overseas.

Yum, whose shares rose 5 percent, said net income rose to $214 million, or 72 cents a share, from $185 million, or 61 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, the company earned 71 cents a share, a penny better than the average forecast among analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $2.24 billion, compared with analysts' average forecast of $2.25 billion.

For the fourth quarter, Yum forecast earnings of 78 cents a share, in line with Wall Street expectations.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based company previously warned that earnings for the second half of the year would be hurt by taxes related to the repatriation of foreign earnings.

Yum shares were up $2.43 to $50.70 in early trade on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares have traded in a 52-week range of $53.79 to $40.22.

The shares trade at about 18.4 times estimates 2005 earnings, compared with 16.5 times for McDonald's Corp. (MCD) and 21 times for Wendy's International Inc. (WEN), based on Tuesday's closing prices.

Yum shares have risen nearly 3 percent in the past six months, compared with a decline of more than 1 percent for the S&P Restaurants Index.