Kraft Foods 3Q profit climbs

by Eric Schroeder
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NORTHFIELD, ILL. – Improved marketing and the launch of several successful new products helped spur a 22 percent increase in earnings at Kraft Foods Inc. in the third quarter. Net income in the period ended Sept. 30 totaled $922 million, equal to 52c per share on the common stock, up from $754 million, or 43c per share, in the same period a year ago.

Adjusted operating income in the third quarter was $1,810 million, up 12 percent from $1,613 million in the same period a year ago. Kraft said the gain was driven by effective management of input costs through pricing and productivity, favorable foreign currency and growth from volume/mix.

Net sales rose 12 percent to $13,226 million from $11,863 million. Organic net revenues climbed 8 percent to $12,691 million from $11,708 million, driven by a 7 percentage point gain from pricing and 1.4 points due to volume/mix.

“Our investments in marketing and new products continue to drive high-quality growth and solid market shares,” said Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and chief executive officer. “And we’ve accomplished this despite having taken significant price increases to offset record-high input costs. Together with substantial savings opportunities, we expect to deliver top-tier results in 2011 and remain on track to launch two industry-leading companies with strong operating momentum in the coming year.”

Operating income within Kraft Foods North America totaled $1,035 million, up 3 percent from $1,002 million in the same period a year ago. Net sales rose to $6,133 million from $5,873 million.

US Grocery operating income rose 20 percent to $292 million, while sales climbed 7 percent to $836 million.

Operating income of US Snacks increased to $221 million, up 2 percent from $216 million in the same period of fiscal 2010. Sales, meanwhile, rose 5 percent to $1,579 million from $1,505 million.

In the company’s US Convenient Meals division, operating income was $105 million, up 28 percent from $82 million, while sales rose 7 percent to $836 million from $806 million.

Finishing lower during the quarter was operating income for the company’s US Cheese business, which fell 14 percent to $145 million from $169 million. Sales in the segment were $902 million, up from $863 million.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, net income was $2,697 million, or $1.53 per share, down 25 percent from $3,574 million, or $2.10 per share, in the same period of fiscal 2010. Adjusted operating income for the nine months was $5,502 million, up 10 percent from $4,982 million a year ago. Net sales were $39,677 million, up 12 percent from $35,434 million.

Overall strong financial results prompted Kraft to raise its operating earnings per share guidance to at least $2.27 from its earlier forecast of $2.25. The company also revised its organic revenue guidance for 2011 to at least 6 percent from 5 percent previously.
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