Smucker 3Q Net Down 2.6%; Prices Increases Help Top Line

J.M. Smucker’s (NYSE:SJM) profits slipped 2.6% during its fiscal third quarter, but the maker of Jif peanut butter boosted its 2011 guidance due to its ability to hike prices.

Orville, Ohio-based Smucker said it earned $132 million, or $1.11 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $135.5 million, or $1.14 a share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, it earned $1.27 a share, topping estimates by a penny.

Revenue rose 8.8% to $1.31 billion, compared with consensus calls for $1.25 billion. Gross margins shrank to 36.1% from 38% amid higher costs.

"We continue to deliver solid earnings and sales growth in a dynamic consumer environment," co-CEO Richard Smucker said in a statement.

Encouraged by its ability to raise prices, Smucker upgraded its financial outlook. The company said it now sees non-GAAP EPS of $4.60 to $4.65, compared with estimates for $4.66.

“As we navigate through an uncertain commodity cost environment, we expect to continue to drive financial results by maintaining our balanced approach to pricing, market share growth, and profitability,” said co-CEO Tim Smucker.

Shareholders responded positively, bidding Smucker’s stock 3% higher to $65.87. Still, the stock has declined 2.6% on the year and is up only 5.9% from a year ago.