Heinz 1Q Profit Rises, But Shares Slip

H.J. Heinz (NYSE:HNZ) on Wednesday posted first-quarter earnings that topped the Street's view, a day after the company's CEO offered a glimpse of the quarterly results.

Earnings for the Pittsburgh-based maker of condiments and food climbed 11% to $264.7 million, or 80 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $235 million, or 70 cents. Excluding one-time items, Heinz earned 87 cents a share, topping the Street’s view of 81 cents.

Revenue for the period ended July 29 fell 1.5% to $2.79 billion from a year ago, in line with average analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll of $2.8 billion.

Sales decreased by 2% to $759 million in its North American consumer products group, 7.2% to $778 million in Europe and another 1.9% in Asia/Pacific, with the non-U.S. declines mostly attributed by Heinz to unfavorable foreign exchange rates. In Europe, prices fell 2.9%, driven by weaknesses in the U.K., Benelux and Eastern Europe.

Partially offsetting those declines was a 2.4% increase to $315 million in its U.S. foodservice group on higher prices, as well as a 2.7% improvement in volumes in Asia that largely reflect growth in emerging markets like Indonesia, India, China and Japan.

“Heinz delivered strong results and our 29th consecutive quarter of organic sales growth, despite the difficult economic environment, higher commodity costs and headwinds from foreign currency,” Heinz CEO William Johnson said in a statement.

Excluding the impact of a stronger dollar that lowers the value of Heinz’s products abroad, organic sales across its four business categories improved.

The company said the earnings put it on track to meet its earlier forecasted fiscal 2013 outlook of $3.52 to $3.62 a share, which is above the consensus of $3.51.