If it feels like you can’t turn a corner without seeing a KFC, Taco Bell or Pizza Hut, there’s a good reason for that.
Yum Brands Inc. YUM, +2.51%, the parent company to those three fast-food chains, opened thousands of new restaurants in 2021, ending the year with more than 53,000 restaurants around the world.
“In 2021, we opened 3,057 net new units, driven by 4,180 gross unit openings with meaningful contributions from each of our brands, marking the strongest growth year in our history and setting an industry record for unit development,” said David Gibbs, Yum’s chief executive, on the Wednesday earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript.
“To put that into context, as the world’s largest restaurant company, we opened a new restaurant, on average, every two hours.”
Habit Burger and Grill is also part of the Yum portfolio. That chain added 26 new restaurants.
KFC added 2,471 locations, the most of the company’s brands.
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Yum reported a fourth-quarter profit miss, but revenue that beat Street expectations.
“The operating backdrop is still experiencing pockets of pressure, while tailwinds are increasingly blowing across global markets,” wrote MKM Partners’ Brett Levy in a post-earnings note.
“The resurgence of its global development plans across its multiple brands continues to highlight our optimism, while the ongoing investments in technology and innovation are supporting their cause.”
MKM rates Yum stock buy with a $150 price target, up from $145.
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Yum’s quarterly report also talked about the menu, with KFC’s chicken sandwich “a significant driver of our positive sales momentum for the business going forward,” according to Gibbs.
Yum stock was up 2.6% in Wednesday trading and has gained more than 24% over the past year. The benchmark S&P 500 index SPX, +1.36% is up 17.2% for the last 12 months.