TreeHouse Foods income rises sharply in quarter

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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WESTCHESTER, ILL. — Boosted by strong performance in the North American Retail Grocery business, first-quarter income for TreeHouse Foods, Inc. climbed sharply.

For the quarter ended March 31, the company had net income of $12,732,000, equal to 40c per share on the common stock, which compared with income of $2,061,000, or 7c per share, during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the quarter were $355,396,000, down 1% from $360,623,000 during the same quarter of the previous year.

"We finished the quarter with sales growth in local currencies, margin improvement and lower operating costs," said Sam K. Reed, chairman and chief executive officer. "While our sales growth was constrained by challenges in the food-away-from-home industry, our retail grocery segment in particular performed well across a broad array of product categories. Overall, it was a very good start to 2009."

The North American Retail Grocery segment had direct operating income of $34,305,000, up 35% from $25,492,000 during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the quarter were $230,682,000, up 5% from $219,640,000.

The Food Away From Home segment had direct operating income of $7,006,000, down 7% from $7,568,000 during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the segment were $66,753,000, down 6% from $70,926,000.

"We believe our strong start to the year shows good promise for the balance of the year," Mr. Reed said. "Although unit growth has been challenged by declines in the food-away-from-home market, we are encouraged by the unit growth we saw in our key retail grocery product categories, especially salsa, salad dressings and sauces. Strength in retail grocery sales should more than offset the recession’s effects on our other business units."

The company raised its guidance for the full year to $1.82 to $1.87 per share from $1.80 to $1.85 per share. The increase is based on the assumption retail private label will continue to perform well.

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