Campbell earnings down 4% in quarter

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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CAMDEN, N.J. — Charges associated with restructuring initiatives and the impact of a loss on commodity hedging activities weighed on earnings at The Campbell Soup Co. during the first quarter.

For the first quarter ended Nov. 2, net earnings were $260 million, equal to 73c per share on the common stock, down 4% from $270 million, equal to 71c per share, during the same quarter of the previous year.

Sales for the quarter were $2,250 million, up 3% from $2,185 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

"We are off to a good start in the year," said Douglas R. Conant, president and chief executive officer. "Our product innovations and marketing efforts have resulted in strong top-line performance across our U.S. soup portfolio. This was especially evident in our condensed soup and broth businesses, both of which had double-digit gains in the quarter. We also are encouraged by the successful launch and early results of our new Campbell’s Select Harvest and Campbell’s V8 ready-to-serve soups."

The U.S. Soup, Sauces and Beverages segment had earnings of $314 million, up 2% from $309 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the segment were $1,198 million, up 9% from $1,097 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

The Baking and Snacking segment had earnings of $83 million, up 15% from $72 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales in the segment were $509 million, down 4% from $532 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

The North America Foodservice segment had earnings of $11 million, down 54% from $24 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the segment were $163 million, down 2% from $166 million.

"Beyond U.S. soup, we had strong performance in our U.S. sauces business, although the growth of our U.S. beverage businesses slowed compared to the rapid growth of the last several quarters," Mr. Conant said. "Pepperidge Farm again delivered strong sales performance with Goldfish and Baked Naturals snack crackers. Arnott’s achieved significant growth in its savory crackers business, and our European branded soup performance was solid. In emerging markets, we continued to invest in our businesses in Russia and China as we prepared to expand our operations in both countries."

For the full-year 2009 Campbell said it expects growth in adjusted net earnings per share between 5% and 7% from the fiscal 2008 adjusted base of $2.09.

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