Campbell earnings up 11% in year

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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CAMDEN, N.J. — Thanks to a boost from the simple meals, baked snacks and vegetable-based beverages categories, Campbell Soup Co. reported fiscal 2007 net earnings increased 11% compared with the previous year.

For the year ended July 29, Campbell posted net earnings of $854 million, equal to $2.21 per share on the common stock, compared with $766 million, equal to $1.88 per share, in 2006.

Sales for the year were $7.867 billion, up 7% compared with $7.343 billion during the previous year.

"By continuing to leverage our competitive advantages in our key categories, Campbell is well positioned for quality sales and earnings growth," said Douglas R. Conant, president and chief executive officer. "We achieved our outstanding fiscal 2007 results while making key investments in our business and systems."

Mr. Conant said the company expanded its international efforts by preparing product introductions in Russia and China, and he said the company focused on quality, convenience and wellness in the U.S. soup business.

In the U.S. Soup, Sauces and Beverages segment, operating earnings came in at $862 million, up 6% compared with $815 million during the previous year. Sales in the segment were up 7% to $3.486 billion compared with $3.257 billion during the previous year. During the year, total U.S. soup sales increased 5%. Condensed soup sales were up 3%, ready-to-serve soup sales were up 5% and broth sales increased 12%.

The Baking and Snacking segment posted operating earnings of $240 million, up 28% compared with $187 million during the previous year. Sales in the segment increased 6% to $1.850 billion compared with $1.747 billion during the previous year.

In the International Soup and Sauces category, operating earnings were $169 million, up 17% compared with $144 million during the previous year. Sales in the segment increased 11% to $1.399 billion compared with $1.255 billion during the previous year.

In the Other segment, operating earnings were $124 million, up 13% compared with $110 million during the previous year. Sales increased 4% to $1.132 billion compared with $1.084 billion during the previous year.

For the fourth quarter ended July 29, the company reported total net earnings of $61 million, equal to 16c per share, up 39% compared with $44 million, equal to 11c per share, during the same quarter of the previous year.

Net sales for the quarter were $1.594 billion, up 10% compared with $1.454 billion during the same quarter of the previous year.

"We finished fiscal 2007 with strong sales performance in the fourth quarter across all of our reporting segments, despite flat U.S. soup sales," Mr. Conant said. "We delivered earnings consistent with our guidance at the end of the third quarter while making increased investments in marketing and our supply chain."

For fiscal year 2008, Mr. Conant said the company expects earnings per share growth of between 5% and 7% from the fiscal 2007 adjusted base of $1.95.

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