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Campbell Soup 1Q Profit Falls

Tue, 11/22/2011 - 3:28am

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Campbell Soup Co. said Tuesday its fiscal first-quarter net income fell 5 percent as price increases were not enough to offset lower volume in its soup and beverage businesses.

Still, profit was better than expected. Campbell said it is working to stabilize its U.S. soup business.

The company raised prices because of rising costs and cut marketing spending in an effort to shield profit from expected volume declines.

The Camden, N.J.,-based company is trying to regain lost ground after several years of declining soup sales. Shoppers have curbed their soup consumption, stopped stocking pantries or shifted to competitor's brands. Campbell is in the early stages of a turnaround plan that includes adding high-end soups and broadening offerings in its snack, beverage and other categories.

It has also closed plants and cut jobs to lower overhead costs.

Net income fell to $265 million, or 82 cents per share, in the quarter ended Oct. 30, from net income of $279 million, or 82 cents per share, in the same period last year.

There were about 5 percent fewer shares outstanding at quarter's end than a year ago, which helps boost earnings per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected 79 cents per share.

Revenue fell less than 1 percent to $2.16 billion from $2.17 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $2.21 billion.

U.S. soup sales fell 4 percent, despite higher prices, as volume dropped. Global baking and snacking performed better, with sales up 4 percent to $568 million. Goldfish snack crackers and the new Cracker Chips and Milano Melts cookies were popular.

Campbell affirmed its guidance for fiscal 2012. It expects revenue to be flat to up 2 percent, which translates to revenue of $7.72 billion to about $7.87 billion. It predicted adjusted earnings of $2.35 to $2.42 per share.

Analysts expect net income of $2.38 per share on revenue of $7.83 billion.

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