LOUISVILLE, KY. — A “tremendous performance” at Taco Bell in the latest quarter boosted sales at parent company Yum! Brands, Inc., said Greg Creed, chief executive officer.
Consolidated net income for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 was $454 million, equal to $1.43 per share on the common stock, up 9% from $418 million, or $1.21 per share, in the prior-year period. Total revenues declined 3% to $1,391 million from $1,436 million.
Excluding foreign currency translation, worldwide system sales grew 5%, reflecting 2% same-store sales growth and 4% net new unit growth. Taco Bell and KFC delivered same-store sales growth of 5% and 3%, respectively, while Pizza Hut same-store sales were flat.
“KFC global delivered system sales growth of 7%, with same-store sales growth of 3% and net new unit growth of 5%,” Mr. Creed said. “KFC saw widespread growth, including particular strength in Africa, Russia, Eastern Europe, Thailand, the Middle East and India. The success in these markets was primarily result of executing on value, innovation, delivery and digital.”
Pizza Hut international system sales grew 1%, driven by international net new unit growth of 5% as same-store sales declined 3%. Pizza Hut U.S. system sales declined 1%, reflecting 1% same-store sales growth and a 1% decline in net new units.
“As we have consistently discussed, the Pizza Hut U.S. turnaround will be a slow build, and we’re encouraged by the foundation that’s been put in place and continue to make strides to improve the brand’s position,” Mr. Creed said during an Oct. 31 earnings call. “In the third quarter, Pizza Hut added emphasis on value, first by a continued and consistent focus on our $7.99 large two-topping pizza. Second, it ran a competitive promotion offering an unbeatable value in the large two-topping pizza for just $5.99 carryout only. This value and the operational improvements have made the brand more relevant and easy. However, the messaging has not been distinctive enough to attract new customers, which is a key focus moving forward.”
Taco Bell system sales grew 8%, driven by 5% same-store sales growth and 3% net new unit growth. The return of Nacho Fries and new menu items including the Double Cheesy Gordita Crunch contributed to a successful performance.
“With new leadership comes new ideas, and I couldn’t be more proud of the Taco Bell U.S. team for improving the way they constructed the calendar in order to generate a more consistent performance and extend momentum,” Mr. Creed said.
He said the Taco Bell brand is set up for “continued success.”
“I think the product innovation continues to be well thought, so I still believe that there’s no better product innovation that comes out that doesn’t come out from Taco Bell. The restaurants are being incredibly well run. The value price points are spot on.”
Based on year-to-date performance, management expects full-year consolidated same-store sales growth to be at the low end of the previously announced 2%-to-3% range and approximately flat full-year core operating profit growth.
“We now anticipate our underlying base operating profit growth to be at or slightly below the low end of the previously communicated high single-digit range, owing to the reduced contribution from Pizza Hut, particularly in the international business,” Mr. Creed said.
For the first nine months of the year, net income of $1,208 million was up 32% from $904 million on total revenues of $4,130 million, down 4% from $4,301 million.