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General Mills (GIS) Q2 Earnings Jump, Margins Expand; Lifts Forecast

 December 19, 2012 07:20 AM

(By Balachander) General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) posted higher quarterly profit and sales, and the maker of branded consumer foods raised its fiscal 2013 forecast. Earnings topped market expectations, while sales came in-line with consensus.

On an adjusted basis, the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company earned 86 cents a share, compared with 76 cents in the same period of last year. Net earnings attributable to General Mills jumped 22 percent to $541.6 million.

The company, whose markets brands include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Fiber One and Cheerios, said net sales increased 5.6 percent to $4.88 billion.

[Related -General Mills, Inc. (GIS) Dividend Stock Analysis]

Wall Street analysts, on average, expected EPS of 79 cents on sales growth of 5.60 percent for the second quarter.

Gross margin on an adjusted basis expanded 20 basis points to 36.7 percent. Gross margin as reported improved 120 basis points to 35.7 percent.

The company said its U.S. Retail segment posted gains in pound volume, net sales and operating profit. The Bakeries and Foodservice segment generated strong double-digit operating profit growth.

International segment recorded "good" sales and profit growth for established businesses in addition to the incremental contributions from Yoki and Yoplait Canada, General Mills said.

Looking ahead for fiscal 2013, General Mills currently expects adjusted earnings per share in the range of $2.65 to $2.67 from prior expectations of about $2.65, while analysts expect $2.67 per share.

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The company expects supply chain inflation to be at the high end of its 2 percent to 3 percent guidance range.

For the first quarter, the company's adjusted earnings increased to 66 cents from 64 cents. Net sales grew 5 percent to $4.05 billion.

GIS shares, which have been trading in the 52-week range between $36.75 and $41.77, closed Tuesday's regular trading at $41.77.

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