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Tricon Global


said Wednesday that it beat Wall Street's earnings estimates for the fourth quarter.

The owner of

Taco Bell




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said its operating earnings totaled $120 million, or 81 cents a share. The company earned $122 million, or 78 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Thirteen analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

were calling for the company to earn 79 cents in the latest quarter.

Sales dropped to $2.18 billion, a 6% decrease from $2.31 billion in the equivalent period last year.

The company also reiterated its operating earnings estimate of $3.18 to $3.22 for 2001. Analysts expect the company to earn $3.16 for the year. The company also said its board authorized an additional $300 million stock repurchase program spanning the next two years.

Shares of Tricon, which is based in Louisville, Ky., fell $1.06, or 2.9%, to $34.96 in regular-session

New York Stock Exchange