Yum Brands: A global growth story
KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell continue to expand in China and beyond.
Yum Brands (YUM) is a fast-food icon. Even if you aren't familiar with the corporate name, chances are you've been a customer at KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
Its franchises can be found in every city in North America, but the real story is the company's expansion into China.
Yum Brands got into China early in 1987. It was the first to bring franchising to China in 1992 and opened the first drive-through restaurant there in 2002.
Currently it has 3,300 KFCs in more than 700 cities and plans to open 20,000 restaurants in coming years. Right now, the company is opening one KFC restaurant in China every day.
The Pizza Hut franchise opened in 1990 and now has more than 500 Pizza Huts in more than 130 cities in China, with plans to open many more. That is a ton of fried chicken and pizzas.
China isn't the only place that Yum Brands is opening restaurants outside of the U.S. and Canada.
It has more than 14,000 restaurants in more than 110 countries and opened more than 800 new ones outside of the U.S. and China in the past year.
That was the 10th year in a row the company has opened more than 700 restaurants outside the U.S. and China.
It does well even in France, home of the food snob, where KFC units enjoy the highest per-unit volume of anywhere in the world.
I shouldn't ignore the U.S., where the business started and continues to do well, although growth is slowing since it already has deep penetration in U.S. markets, which limits its ability to add new units.
The stock pays a decent dividend, which will be increased by 14% to $0.285 per quarter ($1.14 per year) effective with the Nov. 4 payment to shareholders of record as of Oct. 14. The yield is 2.1%.
The stock seems reasonably priced at 16.35 times forward earnings. With a lot of growth potential, Yum should be able to produce double-digit expansion for the foreseeable future.
Investors are fearful that the Chinese growth story that has propelled world markets for several years may be coming to an end.
That could be true, but I believe it's unlikely there will be any protracted downturn there.
So I see this pullback as an opportunity to buy into some issues like Yum Brands that will continue to benefit from the ongoing China story.
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