Why Are Yum! Earnings Falling?

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Yum! Brands will release its latest quarterly report on Wednesday. Yet even though the stock has held up very well, Yum! earnings aren't growing at the pace that investors would like to see, raising questions about what the company can do to bolster growth.

Yum! is the fast-food giant behind popular brands KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. Despite the company's widespread reach throughout the U.S., Yum! has increasingly relied on emerging-market countries rather than more-mature developed markets for its growth. But with emerging markets facing new challenges of their own, the company has some new obstacles to overcome. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Yum! Brands over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report.

Stats on Yum! Brands

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$2.93 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Can Yum! spice up its earnings this quarter?
Analysts have reined in their earnings estimates on Yum! in the past few months, with an $0.08 per share reduction in their calls for the June quarter and cuts of $0.09 and $0.07 per share for their full-year 2013 and 2014 consensus earnings estimates, respectively. But the stock has largely ignored those calls, having risen almost 7% since early April.

The big problem for Yum! lately has been China, where the company suffered a whopping 20% same-store sales drop during the first quarter. An outbreak of avian flu has led to widespread consumer fear about Yum!'s KFC restaurants, and although those fears are irrational as long as chicken is properly cooked, both Yum! and McDonald's had used a supplier that produced tainted chicken. Despite having taken measures to stem the losses, Yum! has seen the negative trend in China continue this quarter, with May same-store sales in the emerging market falling 19%.

Interestingly, though, Yum! is now looking back to its domestic market for growth. In May, the company gave an outline on how it could double sales from its U.S. Taco Bell restaurants in the next eight years. The initiatives Yum! is looking at aren't all that groundbreaking, with the introduction of a new breakfast menu, opening new stores, and introducing higher-quality menu items with a focus on healthier food. Bolstering Taco Bell's perception as being attentive to health concerns could help it tap into the customer base that has helped provide Chipotle Mexican Grill's immense growth in recent years. Some of that challenge has showed up in Chipotle's recent results, with much of its earnings growth having come from one-time items and with same-store sales growth having slowed to just a 1% rate in its most recent quarter.

One area of strength for Yum! has been its advertising, which has demonstrated an ability to get customers to try new menu offerings. A recent survey put Yum! ahead of McDonald's and Chipotle in terms of using ads to woo early adopters of menu items, even though Chipotle has managed to get fairly impressive results with almost no traditional advertising.

In looking at Yum! earnings in its quarterly report, be sure to look for emerging-market growth outside China. Chinese woes might continue for some time, but recent growth in India and other parts of the world has helped Yum! keep its overall international sales up. That, combined with a renewal of domestic growth, could help Yum! get its earnings moving back in the right direction.

Yum! is a great example of how you can profit from our increasingly global economy by investing in your own backyard, but it's far from the only one. The Motley Fool's free report "3 American Companies Set to Dominate the World" shows you some more companies succeeding overseas. Click here to get your free copy before it's gone.

Click here to add Yum! Brands to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

The article Why Are Yum! Earnings Falling? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill and McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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