Kraft Heinz Sales Rise on Growth Outside U.S.

By Maria Armental Features Dow Jones Newswires

Kraft Heinz Co. reported higher sales in the latest period, breaking a string of declines, and the company projected growth will carry into the current quarter.

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The net sales increase -- driven by operations abroad -- is the first since the 2015 merger of Kraft and Heinz, and the first comparable sales increase in six quarters.

Similarly, Kellogg Co. and Mondelez International Inc. reported higher sales in the latest period, driven in part by sales growth outside of the U.S.

Still analysts had expected sales to increase by a wider margin, and shares fell 1.7% to $76.40 in after-hours trading.

The packaged-food giant behind such brands as Oscar Mayer cold cuts and Jell-O pudding was formed in a deal orchestrated by financier Warren Buffett and Brazilian private-equity firm 3G Capital Partners LP.

Kraft Heinz, run by executives from 3G Capital, has been reshaping itself by slashing costs and betting on a renewed focus on fresh and natural foods.

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In the latest period, operating profit margin -- a closely watched metric used to judge the company's underlying performance -- improved to 26% of sales from 22.5% a year earlier.

Overall, third-quarter profit rose 12% to $944 million, or 77 cents a share. Excluding restructuring-related costs, earnings were unchanged at 83 cents a share.

Net sales edged up 0.8% to $6.31 billion, as Europe and Canada helped offset a 0.4% decline in U.S., its largest market.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters estimated Kraft Heinz would earn 82 cents a share on $6.33 billion in sales.

Write to Maria Armental at maria.armental@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 01, 2017 17:04 ET (21:04 GMT)