Pizza Hut first opened its doors in Wichita, Kansas, in 1958, serving hot delicious pizzas under its distinctive bright red roof.   Today, Pizza Hut is the largest pizza chain in the United States, with a systemwide market share of 22 percent.  Not only do consumers rate Pizza Hut America's 'most popular' pizza, we've consistently been names "America's Best Pizza Chain" by numerous newspapers, magazines and consumer publications, as well.

The vision driving this success is pretty simple:   "Be the best at maing and serving the best pizza in America."  And last year, our great pizza got even better.  We greatly improved our product quality with sliced fresh vegetables and meatier toppings.  Consumers responded, and rated us at an all-time high on topping abundance and quality - beating out the majority of our national competitors with our most popular pizzas.

We're not only improving our products, we're also improving our operations by running great restaurants and by building customer-focuses teams who execute operations so well it drives sales.  At the same time, we're optimizing our asset portfolio by closing underperforming stores, consolidating overbuilt markets and selectively refranchising.

And we're creating excitement in the marketplace.  You may have felt the buzz about "The Edge" pizza, our newest pizza innovation, launched late in 1997.  It continues to drive sales and transactions by offering a unique thin crust, zesty flavors and toppings that go right to the edge.  Even the "King of Rock'n'Roll," Elvis Presley, has been to the edge and back.

All of these actions, along with competitive pricing efforts, have resulted in positive transaction momentum, improved profits and same store sales growth late in the year.  In fact, our same store sales went from -8 percent in the first quarter, to +5 percent in the fourth quarter, ending the year strongly.  And the positive momentum continues today.

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