Friday, November 19, 2010

Heinz profit beats estimates; sees more cash

Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co (HNZ.N) posted higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, helped by price increases and growth in emerging markets.

The company, which also makes Ore-Ida frozen potatoes and Smart Ones frozen entrees, affirmed its earnings outlook for the complete fiscal year but raised the target for how much free cash it expects to generate.

Profit in the second quarter, ended Oct. 27, was $251.4 million, or 78 cents a share, compared with $231.4 million, or 73 cents a share, a year previous.

Analysts on average were expecting 76 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales fell 1.2 percent to $2.61 billion, hurt by the impact of foreign exchange rates and falling short of analysts' expectations for $2.67 billion.

Sales volume increased 0.3 percent, driven by 2.6 percent growth in emerging markets. Cost increases lifted sales by 0.6 percent.

Heinz said it is still on track to deliver fiscal 2011 growth of 3 percent to 4 percent in sales and 7 percent to 10 percent in earnings per share. It raised its free cash flow target by 15 percent to $1.15 billion.

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