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Yum! Brands Feeds on China Strength

LOUISVILLE, Ky. ( TheStreet) -- Yum! Brands (YUM - Get Report) beat Wall Street expectations for its second-quarter results Wednesday on strong sales growth in China.

Yum!, the operator of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurant chains, said same-store sales -- or sales at stores open at least one year, a closely watched metric in the restaurant industry -- grew 18% in China but fell 4% in the U.S. Analysts had expected the key line item to grow 11% in China and to fall 1.6% in the U.S.

Yum!'s stock traded heavily ahead of its report. Nearly 5.3 million shares changed hands in Wednesday's session, compared with their average daily volume of just 3.5 million. The stock closed higher by 1.1% at $55.58, and gained another 3.4% in after-hours trading.

After-hours gains also came as a result of Yum! lifting its full-year profit growth forecast "to at least 12% based on the continued strength of our international businesses," CEO David C. Novak said. That would translate to earnings of at least $2.83 a share, excluding items, for the year. That's in line with the current average analysts' view, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Yum! booked a 10.5% jump in second-quarter earnings to $316 million, or 65 cents per share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $286 million, or 59 cents a share. Total revenue rose 9.7% to $2.82 billion from $2.57 billion a year ago.

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