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Yum China warns coronavirus to hit 2020 sales and profit

Operator of KFC restaurants in China had to temporarily shut stores

A KFC restaurant in Shanghai: The fried chicken chain is one of several fast-food brands operated by Yum China in that country.   © Reuters

Yum China Holdings Inc said on Wednesday its 2020 sales and profit would take a hit, as the coronavirus outbreak has forced the fast food restaurant operator to temporarily shut more than 30% of its stores.

The company's shares were down 3% after the bell.

Yum China also warned it could close additional stores, reduce operating hours, or take other steps, depending on the situation in China.

Same-store sales at restaurants that remain open have fallen 40%-50% since the Chinese New Year holiday period, relative to comparable Chinese New Year holiday period in 2019, the company said.

However, Yum China on Wednesday beat quarterly same-store sales estimates, as it benefited from strong demand at its KFC restaurants.

Same-store sales for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 grew 2%, managing to beat anlaysts' average estimate of 1.9%, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Yum China was spun off from Yum Brands Inc in 2016 and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It is the exclusive licensee of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands in China with over 8,900 restaurants in more than 1,300 cities.

(Reuters)

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