PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Restructuring and refinancing costs contributed to 23% decrease in earnings during the third quarter at Pinnacle Foods Finance L.L.C. For the quarter ended Sept. 23, the company had earnings of $9,878,000, which compared with earnings of $12,777,000 during the same quarter of the previous year.

Sales for the quarter were $567,905,000, down 1% from $574,746,000. Pinnacle said the decline reflected smaller volume, primarily driven by the company’s de-emphasis of low-margin Specialty Division businesses, and higher slotting investment behind the company’s recent introduction of Vlasic Farmer’s Garden.

Despite the overall sales decline, Pinnacle said sales in the company’s North American retail business increased slightly in the quarter, led by Birds Eye vegetables, Duncan Hines baking products, Van de Kamps and Mrs. Paul’s seafood and Log Cabin syrups. Sales declined for Vlasic pickles and Aunt Jemima frozen breakfasts, the company said.

“We delivered solid results in an environment that continues to be challenging,” said Bob Gamgort, chief executive officer. “We expanded our gross margin versus year-ago, excluding restructuring, as inflation moderated and we accelerated savings from our productivity initiatives. This improvement drove a healthy 5% increase versus year-ago in adjusted EBITDA in the quarter. Our North America retail sales grew slightly in the quarter, and we held or grew market share on brands representing over 50% of our product contribution. In addition, during the quarter, we completed another refinancing, which further improved our liquidity profile and reduced our interest expense.”

For the nine months ended Sept. 23, the company had earnings of $8,857,000, down 78% from $40,610,000 during the same period of the previous year. Sales for the period were $1,773,425,000, down slightly from $1,783,081,000.