Atlanta, GA 7/2/2009 3:27:44 AM
News / Business

General Mills (NYSE: GIS) Beat Estimates with 4Q 2009 Results

General Mills, Inc. (NYSE: GIS) reported its fourth quarter sales on Wednesday, beating out analysts’ estimates as consumers buy more groceries during this recession.


Brands like Cheerios rose as Americans spend more time in their homes eating, as opposed to eating at restaurants, according to Associated Press.


General Mills' line of top-brands -- including Cheerios and Yoplait Yogurt -- are growing, even as their overall categories expand, showing consumers are sticking with the brands, Chief Executive Ken Powell said in an interview.


General Mills said it increased its spending on marketing 19 percent in the fourth quarter, and that momentum will continue in fiscal 2010, along with new products like Progresso soups with high fiber, gluten-free Betty Crocker dessert mixes and new versions of Yoplait including smoothies.


For the three months that ended May 31, General Mills earned $358.8 million, or $1.07 per share, up from $185.2 million, or 53 cents per share, a year earlier.


Excluding restructuring charges, a loss on some product lines that were sold and other one-time items, the company earned 86 cents per share.


Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who generally exclude one-time items, forecast earnings of 81 cents per share.


Quarterly sales rose 5 percent to $3.65 billion from $3.47 billion, helped by an extra week in the period. Still, sales fell short of Wall Street's estimate of $3.69 billion.


Shares rose on the news, gaining $1.91, or 3.4 percent, to $57.93 in midday trading Wednesday.


Revenue in the U.S. retail division, which sells to stores, rose more than 11 percent in the quarter to $2.5 billion, including the extra week. Yoplait, Big G cereals like Cheerios and Wheaties, and Pillsbury USA were among the product lines posting double-digit sales increases.


Overseas, sales dropped 5 percent to $645 million as the stronger dollar hurt results 17 percent. As the U.S. dollar gains strength, that weighs on international sales once they are converted back to U.S. dollars.


The bakeries and foodservice segment, which sells to outlets like hotels and restaurants, continued to hurt as consumers held back on eating out, with sales down 9 percent for the quarter to $519.8 million.


For the fiscal year, net income rose to $1.3 billion, or $3.80 per share, from $1.29 billion, or $3.71 per share, in fiscal 2008. Annual sales climbed 8 percent to $14.69 billion from $13.65 billion.


The company expects fiscal 2010 profit of $4.20 to $4.25 per share, above analysts' $4.18-per-share estimate. The company said its expectations assume foreign currency translation will still be an issue




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