LOUISVILLE, KY. — New menu innovation and value deals at Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut helped drive a “strong finish to a solid year” for Yum! Brands, Inc., said Greg Creed, chief executive officer.
Net income for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2018, totaled $1,542 million, equal to $4.80 per share on the common stock, up 15% from $1,340 million, or $3.86, in the previous year. During the year, the company recorded net refranchising gains of $540 million and pre-tax investment income of $14 million related to its investment in food delivery company Grubhub.
Revenues of $5,688 million were down 3% from $5,878 million the year before. In constant currency, worldwide system sales grew 6% at KFC, 6% at Taco Bell and 1% at Pizza Hut.
Fourth-quarter net income of $334 million, equal to $1.07 per share, was down 23% from $436 million, or $1.29, in the prior-year period. During the quarter, the company recorded net refranchising gains of $255 million and a pre-tax investment expense of $171 million related to the Grubhub transaction.
Revenues totaled $1,558 million, down 1% from $1,577 million in the comparable quarter.
Excluding foreign currency translation, worldwide system sales grew 9% at Taco Bell, 7% at KFC and 2% at Pizza Hut.
“In the fourth quarter, Pizza Hut U.S. continued its emphasis on value,” Mr. Creed said during a Feb. 7 earnings call. “The $5 lineup, which features favorites like a medium one-topping pizza, Garlic Knots, wings and our new Cinnabon Mini Rolls, helped improve traffic and provides a pipeline for future product innovation.”
Value also won over customers at Taco Bell, which marked its seventh consecutive year of positive same-store sales growth in 2018, Mr. Creed said.
“During the quarter, we doubled down on value in the U.S., with double versions of customer favorites, including the Triple Double Crunchwrap and Double Chalupa,” he said. “Then, fan-favorite Rolled Chicken Tacos finished the quarter off strong.”
KFC finished its fifth consecutive year of positive same-store sales growth. Menu innovation during the fourth quarter included a Southern-inspired Hot Honey Chicken and Chicken and Waffles with syrup.
“KFC's bold and cheeky marketing uniquely accentuated the delicious pairing to help KFC U.S. deliver its strongest month of same-store sales growth for the year,” Mr. Creed said. “With continued focus on value and innovation, we're excited for what 2019 has in store for this always original brand.”
The year also brought significant restaurant development for the company, which now has more than 48,000 restaurants in approximately 270 brand-country combinations, Mr. Creed said.
“Together with our world-class franchisees, we opened, on average, eight gross restaurants per day or, in other words, one restaurant every three hours,” he said.