Yum! Brands Is Looking Tasty

Michael is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM), the owner of the ubiquitous brands Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, issued positive results from its second quarter, showing strong free cash flow and an even stronger trend in improving same store sales. Over this past quarter, Yum! has been fighting off a scandal about tainted chicken in China and a saturated fast-food market in the U.S. But as this company has shown, bumps in the road lead to entry points for investors.

Pizza Hut delivers

An outbreak of avian flu in some Chinese cities left KFC with little reason to offer higher same store sales for the second quarter. Customers were reeling from this outbreak, and tended to stay away. While the scare translated into lackluster performance in China by KFC, Pizza Hut championed a strong quarter, offsetting KFC’s losses by attracting 7% more sales.

Yum!’s management stated on the conference call that these “isolated incidents” will not dictate the growth of the restaurants in China. The Chinese market is important to Yum!, as it accounts for more than half of the company’s revenues. With the avian flu scare behind it, Yum! should be able to improve its revenues from that region.

The U.S. palate is munching tacos and fried chicken

Sales in the United States grew by only 1% compared to 7% in the prior year. The lackluster performance for Pizza Hut in this region (2% decline in sales) was buttressed by sales growth at Taco Bell and KFC by 2% and 3%, respectively.

The industry growth rate, including the U.S. sales growth rate of competitors McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) and Burger King (NYSE: BKW), is approximately 1%. This percentage increase matching that of Yum! Brands alludes to the fact that the fast-food market in the U.S. may have become more saturated with something other than just fat: competition.

That being said, Yum! Brands spreads investor’s risk across a global franchise model, which has amounted to steady revenue streams and positive free cash flow.

Valuation

Yum! has earned over $13 billion in revenue for the 12 months ending June 15. Analysts estimate the company's top line for fiscal year 2013 will offer investors $3.09 EPS, which is a 4.94% increase year-over-year. As of its July 25 closing price, Yum! traded at 23.79 times EPS.

Over the next two fiscal years, analysts expect revenue to grow to $16.9 billion, with an EBITDA margin of 21.9%, resulting in $4.43 EPS in 2015. These numbers seem very attainable by Yum! as its management has suggested growth in China and steady growth in the U.S. will lead this company, and stock, forward. A price target of $106 isn’t out of the question, taking into account the current trading multiple and future earnings potential of $4.43 per share.

Saturated, and I’m not taking about fat

As noted before, the fast-food industry is highly saturated and the two titans in the industry are Burger King and McDonald’s.

Burger King offers a light dividend return of 1.2%. It has shown some progressive sales numbers due to their special menus and combo deals, and has plans to expand its current home delivery service. Current valuations of Burger King have the stock trading over 21 times forward EPS, which makes it a more expensive buy among its peers. The stock at these levels is not as attractive as Yum!’s, so my stance on Burger King is to hold the position and not accumulate any shares at this point.

McDonald’s is a great buy for a portfolio, especially now, after posting increased sales of 2.6%. McDonald’s is a household name that isn’t going anywhere for generations, and a long position of this stock should be accumulated on any significant pull back on the stock.

Its last quarter’s earnings met consensus revenue estimates, coming in at $7.083 billion. Its earnings per share came in $0.02 below average analyst estimates of $1.40 per share. That being said, any pullbacks in McDonald’s shares are an opportunity to buy, and I recommending accumulating shares at this point.

Conclusion

Whether it be China’s promising outlook or its attractive valuation against U.S. competitors, Yum! Brands should be a buy for your portfolio. With current shares trading at the $70.00 level, forward estimates show this stock has room to grow, and I believe there is over $30.00 in value right now. My recommendation is to purchase Yum! Brands.

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Michael Mandala has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Burger King Worldwide and McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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