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ConAgra 3Q Profit Climbs

Thu, 03/22/2012 - 1:25pm

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — ConAgra Foods Inc. said Thursday that its fiscal third-quarter profit increased 26 percent as the company raised prices.

Like many food companies, the owner of brands such as Banquet, Marie Callender's and Healthy Choice is dealing with higher costs for ingredients, packaging and fuel and has raised its prices to help offset those increases.

For the period ended Feb. 26, ConAgra reported net income of $271.6 million, or 65 cents per share, up from $214.8 million, or 50 cents per share, a year ago.

Removing 14 cents per share related to a gain on the company's increased investment in Agro Tech Foods Ltd. as well as other items, earnings were 51 cents per share.

Analysts expected earnings of 49 cents per share, according to a FactSet poll.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $3.37 billion from $3.14 billion. This beat Wall Street's forecast of $3.36 billion.

Sales for the commercial foods segment rose 14 percent due to higher prices, while consumer foods' sales increased 4 percent on pricing and recent acquisitions like the National Pretzel Co. Some brands reporting higher sales included Chef Boyardee, Peter Pan and Slim Jim.

CEO Gary Rodkin said in a statement that the Omaha, Neb., company's Lamb Weston potato business did well during the quarter.

ConAgra said that it expects a modest increase in fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share from a year ago, but did not give a specific per share figure.

Its stock shed 21 cents to $26.15 in premarket trading.

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