Yum Brands Inc , parent of the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC chains, posted a quarterly profit that blew past Wall Street's target and raised its full-year profit forecast, sending shares up 2.6 percent.

Yum expects 2009 per-share earnings growth of 12 percent excluding items, driven by higher operating profit growth in China and a lower than expected tax rate -- up from its earlier call for growth of at least 10 percent, the fast-food company said on Tuesday.

The new growth forecast would result in earnings of $2.14 per share, which tops analysts' estimates of $2.13 per share, according to Thomson Reuters Estimates I/B/E/S.

Third-quarter net income rose to $334 million, or 69 cents per share, for the quarter ended September 5, compared with net income of $282 million, or 58 cents per share, a year earlier.

Profit excluding special items was 70 cents per share, beating analysts call for a per-share profit of 58 cents.

Total revenue fell to $2.78 billion from $2.84 billion.

Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum gets more than half of its operating profit from China and other overseas businesses and investors expect most of Yum's future growth to come from those markets.

Shares in Yum rose to $35.60 from their close of $34.86 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; Editing Bernard Orr)