Campbell Soup misses profit, sales estimates; trims sales forecast

Campbell Soup Co's (CPB.N

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Shares of the company, which also sells Pepperidge Farm snacks and Prego pasta sauce, fell as much as 5 percent to $54.16 in morning trade on Friday.

Campbell Soup, like other processed packaged food makers, has been vulnerable to changing consumer tastes toward fresher and healthier foods.

To cater to those new tastes, Campbell Soup created its own fresh-food unit in 2015 to sell carrots, carrot ingredients, refrigerated beverages and salad dressings, but the business has been struggling.

A premature harvest that led to smaller carrots last year, resulted in market share losses while a recall of protein shakes further added to its troubles.

Sales in the unit, which contributes 14 percent to total revenue, fell 6 percent in the third quarter ended April 30, hurt in part by manufacturing constraints related to the recall.

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"We experienced significantly lower consumption across almost all of our categories... we felt it most acutely in February," Campbell Soup Chief Executive Denise Morrison said on a post-earnings call.

Sales in its Americas simple meals and beverages unit, the company's largest by revenue, dipped 2 percent in the quarter.

Weak demand for condensed soups and broths as well as V8 vegetable juices, contributed to the decline.

"While trends improved as the quarter progressed, growth in March and April was insufficient to offset the earlier weakness," Morrison said.

Net sales fell nearly 1 percent to $1.85 billion, missing analysts' average estimate of $1.87 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said it expects its full-year sales to be flat to down 1 percent compared with its prior forecast of flat to up 1 percent.

Campbell Soup, however, raised its adjusted profit forecast for the year to $3.04-$3.09 per share from $3.00-$3.09 per share.

Excluding certain items, Campbell Soup earned 59 cents per share in the quarter, missing analysts' average estimate of 64 cents.

Net income attributable to the company fell to $176 million, or 58 cents per share, partly due to a pretax charge related to its cost-saving program.

The company earned $185 million, or 59 cents per share, a year earlier.

(Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto)