Sara Lee sustains second-quarter loss

by Eric Schroeder
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DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — The Sara Lee Corp. sustained a loss of $62 million in the second quarter ended Dec. 30. The results compare unfavorably to net income of $438 million, or 58c per share, reported during the same period of fiscal 2006. Sales for the quarter were $3,182 million, which compared with $2,974 million for the pervious year.

For the first six months of fiscal 2007, net income was $271 million, or 26c per share, compared with net income of $505 million, or 65c per share, for the same period. Sales for the first half of the year were $6,073 million, compared with $5,737 million for the same period last year.

Within Sara Lee’s food and beverage operations, results were mixed. The company’s North American retail meats segment, for example, suffered an operating loss in the second quarter of fiscal 2007 of $6 million compared with income of $50 million reported during fiscal 2006. The loss was due to $54 million in significant items, including a $34 million charge for the impairment of assets.

During the first six months of the year, the segment reported net sales of $1.32 billion compared with $1.29 billion for the same period last year. Operating segment income for the first six months of fiscal 2007 was $21 million compared with $67 million.

Sara Lee’s North American retail bakery segment, which includes its Senseo coffee business, posted an 8% gain in second-quarter net sales to $500 million. The increase was driven by the acquisition of the Butter-Krust baking business and high pricing to cover high wheat prices and other increased input costs, according to the company. The segment reported operating income of $3 million in the second quarter compared with a $17 million loss this past year.

For the first six months of fiscal 2007, the company posted sales of $998 million compared with $923 million. Operating income was $8 million compared with a loss of $21 million for the previous year.

The company’s food service business, which includes meats, bakery and coffee, reported net sales of $614 million for the second quarter, up $11 million compared with the same period last year. Strong frozen pie volumes around the holidays combined with increased sales of meats during the quarter drove the segment to report operating income of $59 million for the quarter compared with $55 million the previous year.

For the first six months of fiscal 2007, segment sales were $1.15 billion compared with $1.13 billion. Operating income was $78 million compared with $68 million the previous year.

Sara Lee said it expects full fiscal 2007 earnings per share to be in the range of 58c to 64c per share, and includes 8c per share of earnings from discontinued operations owned during the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

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