DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — Net income at Sara Lee Corp. in the year ended June 27 totaled $364 million, equal to 52¢ per share on the common stock. The results were an improvement compared with fiscal year 2008, when the company lost $79 million. Sales for 2009 were $12,881 million, a slight decline compared with 2008 when the company recorded sales of $13,212 million.

"I am pleased to report that we’ve just completed our second consecutive year of strong overall performance, despite tough economic and competitive headwinds," said Brenda C. Barnes, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our 2009 results reflect the significant progress we have made in transforming Sara Lee and focusing the company on core businesses with large and growing brands in important categories.

"We’ve dramatically improved efficiencies and productivity across the board, while fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration. We’ve built a solid foundation and will continue to invest in the future. We are confident that we will continue to execute our growth strategy in fiscal 2010 and in the years to come."

The company’s North American Retail business unit recorded $260 million in operating income during the year, an increase of 68% compared with the previous year. Sara Lee’s North American Foodservice division had operating income of $54 million for the full year, a significant turnaround compared with the $302 million loss the business segment sustained in 2008.

Operating income for the North American Fresh Bakery business was $33 million compared with $60 million in fiscal 2008. The decrease was caused by a $31 million charge in the second quarter for a partial withdrawal liability relating to an employer pension plan, according to the company. Adjusted operating income was $70 million compared with $63 million for the previous year.

Sara Lee’s International Beverage unit saw its operating income decline 11% to $488 million in fiscal 2009 from $547 million in 2008. The company noted strong sales volumes in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Australia and Thailand could not offset lower unit volumes in Europe due to competition from private label manufacturers.

The International Bakery unit recorded a loss of $193 million compared with a loss of $346 million in 2008.

Sara Lee said it expects full-year earnings per share from continuing operations to be in the range of $1.03 to $1.09. The company expects five of its six business units to see improved operating income during fiscal 2010. The exception is the North American Foodservice unit, which is facing continuing economic pressure, according to Sara Lee.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, Sara Lee suffered a loss of $14 million. During the previous year the company posted a loss of $672 million. Sales for the quarter were $3,164 million compared with $3,507 million for the same period of fiscal 2008.