ConAgra Reports Lower-Than-Expected Quarterly Sales

Industries Reuters

ConAgra Foods, the maker of Chef Boyardee pasta and Hunt's ketchup, reported a quarterly profit that handily beat analysts' estimates as it raised prices on some products and discounted less.

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However, sales fell 4.6 percent to $2.67 billion, missing analysts' estimates, hurt by lower demand for its grocery, snacks and frozen food items.

Like rivals Campbell Soup Co and General Mills Inc , ConAgra is struggling to increase sales and profit margins as consumers shift to fresh foods from packaged products as they look for healthier options.

The company's shares rose 2 percent to $44 in premarket trading.

Conagra's Lamb Weston frozen potato products business, which it plans to spin off later this year, reported a 4 percent rise in net sales.

Net income attributable to the company was $186.2 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.15 billion, or $2.68 per share, in the same period last year.

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Excluding one-time charges and discontinued operations, the company earned 61 cents per share.

Analysts had expected adjusted earnings of 48 cents per share and revenue of $2.73 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company booked a $1.32 billion loss from discontinued operations in the year-earlier period after selling its loss-making private-brands business to TreeHouse Foods .

(Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)