Yum! Brands, Inc., posted higher-than-anticipated fourth-quarter profits last week.

The parent company of Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W credits most of its growth in sales to expansion in international markets. More than 1,000 new international franchises paved the way for $172 million in earnings, compared to $164 million in earnings during the fourth quarter in 2001. Sales were led by its two flagship brands — Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are leading users of cheese products.

Based on these results and future plans, Yum estimates it can deliver at least 10 percent growth in earnings in 2003 and beyond.