These profits taste like chicken. Like deep-fried chicken with a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.

Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM), the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, just reported 4% quarterly revenue growth, to $3.4 billion, and earnings per share of $0.43 -- a penny below the year-ago quarter. Excluding $16 million of charges during the quarter, you get 5% earnings growth to $0.46 per share.

Some 60% of Yum!’s operating profit now comes from abroad, and the company is building a lot more stores outside the States than inside. CEO David Novak trusts "the power of our global portfolio" to keep earnings per share growing by 10% this year, despite "extreme financial pressure" on consumers everywhere.

Value-priced foods like gorditas, crispy chicken, and pizza seem to be in high demand in these trying financial times. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) has already proven that concept, and I expect more of the same when Wendy's/Arby's Group (NYSE:WEN) and Burger King (NYSE:BKC) report earnings in the coming days. Cheap, quick-serve burgers and drumsticks are comfort foods. They may not be good for your cholesterol, but it's like chewing on a juicy safety blankie.

Higher-end restaurateurs like Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) should suffer a lot more than their low-end brethren in any recession. Consumers may still want to eat fancy dinners, but it's getting tougher to squeeze the cost into their budgets -- and a couple of hours of precious time out of their schedules. That time could be spent job-hunting, you know. Or picking a safe restaurant stock like Yum! Brands over the rabble of unproven hopefuls.

This is not rocket science by any means -- more like betting on Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) over Saks (NYSE:SKS) in a discounting fight. But common sense really makes finger-lickin' good investing sense sometimes.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, but he likes both burgers and pizza. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.