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LOUISVILLE, KY-Yum! Brands, the operator of the KFC, Taco Bell and other fast-food chains, expects to add 1,500 units to its global store base next year. Executives expect to add 350 US restaurants; 400 in its China Division, which includes China, Taiwan and Thailand; and 750 in its International Division, representing other countries.

Sales are forecast to increase between 3% and 4% in the US, 22% in China and by at least 5% in other countries. This equates to system-wide growth of between 5% and 6% around the globe.

Yum! executives have also confirmed their $2.64 earnings per share target for the year. For next year they are predicting at least a 10% jump in EPS, coming in around $2.90. Officials also expect margins to improve in 2006.

Executives are also planning about $675 million in capital expenditures. During the next two years they intend to reduce the company’s ownership share of its restaurants from 26% to 20%, further increasing the stake of franchise operators.

Yum! operates restaurants under the KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s and A&W banners, and many of its locations have multiple concepts under one roof. Of its 34,000 restaurants, about 21,000 are domestic, 11,000 are in the International Division and 2,000 are in the China Division.

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