When you think of hot stocks this earnings season, it might be easy to overlook Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) if you haven't been following the company recently. After all, tech giants seem to be getting all of the attention this earnings season, reporting massive growth. But Yum! Brands also impressed investors this earnings season, sending shares up more than 7% following its earnings report last week.

Here's a close look at the ways Yum! Brands posted exceptional results and exceeded expectations in its fourth quarter.

A group of people eating Pizza Hut at home

Image source: Pizza Hut's official Twitter account.

22%: Yum! Brands' earnings per share excluding special items was $0.68, up 22% year over year. Earnings per share came in one cent ahead of a consensus analyst estimate for adjusted EPS of $0.67. In addition, EPS growth notably accelerated from the 21% year-over-year increase Yum! reported in Q2. 

11%: Yum!'s core operating profit growth, which excludes currency changes and special items, was up 11% year over year in the quarter.

6%: Worldwide system sales across KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell were up 6% year over year. The strong performance highlights the company's ability to execute on its multi-year transformation strategy, just as Yum! celebrates its first anniversary of spinning off from Yum China.

3%: Worldwide same-store sales were up 3%, exceeding analysts' estimates for same-store-sales growth of 1.9%. More importantly, this marked an acceleration from Yum! Brands' same-store-sales growth of 2% in its second quarter.

1%: Yum! Brands' recent efforts to revitalize Pizza Hut started to pay dividends in Q3. System and same-store sales at Pizza Hut were up 3% and 1% year over year, respectively. In Q2, these metrics were up 2% and down 1%, respectively.

Regarding Pizza Hut's recent progress, Yum! Brands management commented on the importance of its recent transformation agreement signed with Pizza Hut franchisees in the U.S. at the beginning of May, during the company's third-quarter earnings call (the following from a Reuters transcript):

As we've said before, do not expect the Transformation Agreement to yield results overnight, but we do expect to see improvement over time. I am confident the changes made with the Transformation Agreement will allow us to execute on our commitment to a hot, fast and reliable Pizza Hut experience over the long term.

With Pizza Hut representing a meaningful 20% of Yum!'s annual operating income, the positive global same-store sales at Pizza Hut was a promising sign for investors.

362: Highlighting the ongoing growth potential for Yum!, the company opened 362 net new units during the quarter.

$1.44: Yum! Brands' better-than-expected performance during the quarter was particularly evident in its revenue. Yum! Brands' third-quarter revenue was about $1.44 billion, well above a consensus forecast for revenue of $1.39 billion.

6.6 million: Topping off Yum!'s solid third-quarter results, management spent $501 million during the quarter repurchasing 6.6 million shares. Best of all, these shares were purchased at an average price of $75, about 6% below where the stock is trading at the time of this writing. As long as Yum! can keep up its momentum, these share repurchases could prove to very accretive to earnings-per-share growth over the long haul.

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