Mending Taco Bell

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Irvine, California-Management at owner Tricon Global Restaurants Inc. believes things are improving at Taco Bell, and it's important to the company at large that they're right.

Taco Bell faces significant competition from up-and-coming fast-casual chains like McDonald's Chipotle and others. The chain sent out marketing messages that made its positioning-quickie Mexican or frat food?-unclear. And a young customer base that cherished cheapo chimichangas grew up, their tastes maturing as their wallets flattened.

While company same-store sales are up 2 percent year over year through Tricon's first three fiscal quarters, it has been its Pizza Hut and KFC operations that have been pulling most of the weight. A 2 percent rise in same-store sales at Pizza Hut and a 1 percent increase at KFC offset a 2 percent slump at Taco Bell.

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