General Mills Inc. (GIS) Q3 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

MarketsMotley Fool

General Mills, Inc. (NYSE: GIS)Q3 2018 Earnings Conference CallMarch 21, 2018, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

Continue Reading Below

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the General Mills Third Quarter Fiscal 2018 Earnings Conference Call. During the presentation, all participants will be in a listen only mode. Afterwards, we will conduct a question and answer session. At that time, if you have a question, please press the 1 followed by the 4 on your telephone. If at any time during the conference you need to reach an operator, you may press the * followed by the 0. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded today, Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

I will now turn the conference over to Jeff Siemon, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

Jeff Siemon -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thanks, Nelson, and good morning to everyone. I'm here with Jeff Harmening, our Chairman and CEO; and Don Mulligan, our CFO. I'll hand the call over to them in a moment, but before I do, let me cover a few items. Our press release on third quarter results was issued this morning over the wire services, and you can find the release and a copy of the slides that supplement our remarks this morning on our Investor Relations website. I'll remind you that our marks will include forward-looking statements that are based on management's current views and assumptions, and that the second slide in today's presentation lists factors that could cause our future results to be different than our current estimates.

10 stocks we like better than General MillsWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and General Mills wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of March 5, 2018

And with that, I'll turn you over to my colleagues, beginning with Jeff.

Jeff Harmening -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Jeff, and good morning to everyone. Let's jump right in and cover the key messages for today. Our primary goal entering fiscal 2018 has been to strengthen our topline performers while maintaining our efficiency. We're delivering on the first part of that goal with stronger innovation, more impactful consumer news, and better in store execution, leading to a second consecutive quarter of organic net sales growth. We're also generating significant growth in free cash flow through strong capital discipline. As a result, we're reaffirming our full year organic net sales and free cash flow targets.

While I feel good about our results on net sales and cash, I'm disappointed in our product performance this quarter. Our third quarter operating performance fell well short of our expectations, and our full year outlook has been impacted by an increase in supply chain costs in a dynamic cost environment. We're moving urgently to address these rising cost pressures. We've taken actions to improve profitability in the near term, and we've launched initiatives that will reduce our long-term cost structure. While these actions will only partially offset the cost headwinds in fiscal 2018, we still expect to deliver profit growth in the fourth quarter, and we're confident these actions will strengthen our bottom-line results beginning in fiscal 2019. Beyond our current results and outlook, we remain confident in our ability to drive long-term value with our consumer first strategy, which will be further strengthened with the addition of Blue Buffalo to our family of brands.

Before turning it over to Don to cover our financial results, let me share some details on the cost increases driving our revised profit outlook and the steps we're taking to mitigate these increased costs going forward. Between incremental costs we identified as we closed the books on the third quarter and a more unfavorable cost outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year, we now expect our full year fiscal '18 total segment operating profit will be 5 to 6% below year ago levels in constant currency. The key driver of this change is a significant increase in supply chain costs, which falls into two main areas. First, our input costs are rising faster than we had anticipated. In fact, we now estimate our full year fiscal '18 input cost inflation will be 4%, one point higher than our previous estimate.

We called out increased freight costs at our update at CAGNY, but the cost pressure we're seeing is even higher than we'd thought at the time. We're not having to go out to the spot market for close to 20% of our shipments, versus a historic average of about 5%. And those spot market prices can be 30 to 60% higher than our contracted rates. In fact, North American freight spot prices were near 20-year highs in February. Higher freight costs are impacting our raw material prices as well, as the cost to ship materials from our suppliers to our factories has risen significantly.

And we've seen higher prices in some key commodities, including grains, fruits, and nuts, further heightening the inflationary dynamic. The second main area of supply chain cost pressure is increased operational costs driven by higher volumes running through our network. We've seen increased volume on some capacity constraint platforms and stronger results for our new products. And while I'm pleased with our increased volume performance, those factors mean we're utilizing more external manufacturing, where conversion costs can be significantly higher than our internal platforms. Additionally, we've seen increased expenses from intra-network shipments between our distribution centers as we move more products to the right locations to satisfy the strong demand.

We're moving urgently to address this increasingly dynamic cost inflation environment and ensure that negative profit impact is limited to fiscal 2018. Some of the actions we're taking will have an impact already this fiscal year. We're addressing higher freight costs in the near term by qualifying more carriers and utilizing different modes of transportation. We're placing increasingly tight control over all expenses in the balance of this year. We're also taking smart actions to drive positive net price realization in a higher cost environment by pulling various levers within our strategic revenue management toolbox. The specific SRM actions will vary across categories and vary across geographies, but will impact all four operating segments, with benefits starting to hit this fiscal year and more fully impacting 2019.

We're also moving forward on initiatives to address our structural costs for fiscal 2019 and beyond. We're optimizing our distribution network between the factory and the customer to better align with the manufacturing footprint reorganization we completed over the past three years. We've approved additional cost savings initiatives designed to further optimize our global administrative structure and will continue to drive other savings efforts that will improve our efficiency, including our ongoing holistic margin management program, our global sourcing initiative, and other enterprise process transformation projects.

In addition to these profit actions, we will maintain our focus on improving our net sales through our compete, accelerate, and reshape priorities, because we know our job is to deliver both the top and the bottom line. Before I turn it over to Don, let assure you that we understand the ramifications of changing current year outlook in such a short period of time, and we are taking steps to ensure this doesn't happen again. Our forecasting process has historically relied on a periodic in-depth analysis at key junctures during the fiscal year. And at more stable times, that cadence served us well in forecasting our cost and margins. In an increasingly dynamic environment, we need to go deeper more frequently. While that would not have reduced the cost, it would have accelerated our mitigation efforts by a quarter or so. So, while we're moving with urgency to address these higher costs, we're moving with equal urgency to adjust our forecasting process at all levels of the organization.

Now let me turn it over to Don to provide more details on the quarter and our updated outlook.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Jeff, and good morning, everyone. Slide eight summarizes third quarter fiscal '18 financial results. Net sales totaled $3.9 billion in the quarter, up 2% as reported. Organic net sales increased 1%. Total segment operating profit totaled $628 million, down 6% in constant currency. Net earnings increased 163% to $941 million, and diluted earnings per share increased 166% to $1.62 cents, as reported. These results include one-time in ongoing benefits related to U.S. tax reform. Adjusted diluted EPS, which excludes the one-time impacts related to tax form and other items affecting comparability, was $0.79, up 8% on a constant currency basis, reflecting a lower ongoing tax rate and fewer average diluted shares outstanding.

Slide nine shows the components of total company net sales growth. Organic net sales increased 1% in the third quarter, driven by organic sales mix and net price realization. Foreign currency translation yielded a two-point benefit to net sales. Divestitures reduced net sales growth by one point, reflecting co-packing sales made in the last year's third quarter related to our Green Giant divestiture.

Turning to slide ten, third quarter adjusted gross margin decreased 250 basis points, and adjusted operating profit margin was down 120 basis points. As Jeff mentioned, we experienced a significant increase in supply chain cost, including higher freight, commodities, and operational cost. And we now expect our fiscal '18 input cost inflation will be 4%, one point higher than our previous guidance. We also had higher merchandising activity in the quarter, including greater than expected seasonal performance on soup and refrigerated dough, and stronger merch results in cereal and snack bars, which more than offset the benefit of trade expense phasing from the prior year. These margin headwinds were partially offset by lower SG&A expenses, including a 22% reduction in advertising and media expense in the quarter.

Year-to-date, media expense is down 5%, as we have shifted some dollars to vehicles closer to the point of sale, including customer events, in store theater, loyalty programs, sponsorships, and sampling. Our Million Acts of Good activation with Ellen is a great example of this type of spending. These initiatives get our brand in front of the consumer, usually in the store, that aren't captured in the media line in the P&L. We expect our total consumer-facing spending this year, including media as well as non-media vehicles like the ones I just mentioned, to be roughly in line with prior year levels.

Slide 11 summarizes our joint venture results in the quarter. CPW net sales increased 2% in constant currency, with growth across all four CPW regions, and strong performance on our granola and muesli product lines. Haagen-Dazs Japan, constant currency net sales were down 3% due to unfavorable net price realization and mix. On a year-to-date basis, constant currency net sales were up 1% for CPW and up 2% for Haagen-Dazs Japan. Combined after tax earnings from joint ventures totaled $17 million, up 30% in constant currency, primarily driven by volume growth at CPW.

Slide 12 summarizes other noteworthy income statement items in the quarter. We incurred $11 million in restructuring and project-related charges in the quarter, including $3 million recorded in cost of sales. Corporate unallocated expenses, excluding certain items affecting comparability, decreased $4 million from a year ago. Net interest expense was up $13 million, primarily driven by the early repayment of certain medium-term notes, which resulted from the Blue Buffalo acquisition. This one-time item is excluded from adjusted earnings. The effective tax rate for the quarter was impacted by a one-time provisional net benefit of $504 million related to tax reform. Excluding items affecting comparability, the tax rate was 15.2%, compared to 24.7% a year ago, driven by the lower corporate income tax rate resulting from tax reform, partially offset by nonrecurring favorable discrete items in the prior year period. And average diluted shares outstanding declined 1% in the quarter. We continue to expect average diluted shares will be down approximately 2% for the full year.

Turning to our nine-month financial performance, net sales of $11.85 billion were down 1% on an organic basis. Segment operating profit declined 10% in constant currency. And adjusted diluted EPS were down 2% in constant currency, including the impact of the lower corporate tax rate and the lower average diluted shares outstanding.

Turning to the balance sheet, slide 14 shows that our core working capital decreased 57% versus the prior year, driven by continued benefits from our term's extension program. For the full year, we continue to expect our core working capital balance will finish well below fiscal '17 levels, driven by significant improvement in accounts payable. Nine-month operating cash flow was $2.1 billion, up 29% over the prior year, driven by our working capital improvements. Year-to-date capital investments totaled $398 million, and through the first nine months of the fiscal year, we returned nearly $1.4 billion to shareholders through dividends and net share repurchases.

Slide 16 summarizes our fourth quarter outlook, excluding the impact of the proposed Blue Buffalo acquisition. We expect to deliver another quarter of organic net sales growth, driven by positive price mix across all four segments. Remember that our results in Asia and Latin America segment will be negatively impacted by the comparison to last year's fourth quarter that included an extra month of results in Brazil, as we align net markets reporting calendar to our corporate calendar.

We continue to expect accelerated cost savings in the fourth quarter, driven by benefits from our new global sourcing initiative. That increased cost savings, plus positive price mix, and the initial benefits of the actions Jeff highlighted will help drive constant currency growth in total segment operating profit and adjusted diluted EPS.

I'll close my portion of our remarks by summarizing our updated fiscal '18 guidance. As I just noted, this outlook does not include any impact from the Blue Buffalo acquisition. We continue to expect organic net sales growth to be flat to last year. As Jeff mentioned upfront, we now expect total segment operating profit growth will be down 5 to 6% on a constant currency basis. Our full year adjusted effective tax rate is now expected to be approximately 26%, or 1% below our most recent guidance. We continue to estimate that tax reform will have a 2-point favorable impact to our fiscal '18 adjusted effective tax rate.

Our updated full year adjusted diluted EPS outlook is in the range of between flat and up 1% in constant currency. We expect currency translation will add one point of growth to net sales, total segment operating profit, and adjusted diluted EPS in fiscal '18. Finally, we continue to expect full year free cash flow growth of at least 15% this year.

With that, I'll hand it back to Jeff to cover our segment results.

Jeff Harmening -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Don. Now, let's look at each of our segment results and talk a little bit about our upcoming news and initiatives. In North America retail, organic net sales were up 1% in the third quarter. U.S. snacks posted 3% net sales growth, driven by Nature Valley, Lara Bar, and fruit snacks. The U.S. meals and baking operating unit generated 2% net sales growth behind a strong baking and soup season. Canada net sales were up 1% in constant currency, led by our natural and organic platform. U.S. net cereal sales were down 1%, reflecting a reduction in customer inventory levels, while cereal retail sales in Nielson measured outlets were up 2% behind innovation and effective messaging across our core brands. U.S. yogurt net sales were down 8%, which represents the third consecutive quarter of improvement as our portfolio benefits from successful innovation and faster growing yogurt segments. Constant currency segment operating profit was flat compared to the year ago period, driven by higher sales offset by higher input costs.

As I outlined at CAGNY, our type priority for returning to consistent topline growth is to compete effectively on every brand across every geography. Growing with our categories is the first measure of success, and I'm pleased to say that we have accomplished that in the U.S. in the third quarter, with retail sales up 1%, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of sales improvement. And we grew market share in seven of our top nine categories. Our improvement is driven by solid fundamentals. Our baseline sales trends are 500 basis points better than last year and are driving 75% of our retail sales improvement. This is the result of good consumer news and strong messaging through traditional media, like TV and digital advertising on Nature Valley, Pillsbury, and Totino's, as well as the activations that go beyond traditional media, like our Ellen partnership on Cheerios.

We're also delivering better innovation this year, with our average new product turning nearly 50% better on shelf compared to last year. This includes Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios, which is the biggest launch in the cereal category this year, and Oui by Yoplait, which is the largest launch in the yogurt category this year.

The third leg of our improvement is our in-store executions. We were back in the zone on seasonal merchandising this year, which drove significant improvement in soup and refrigerated dough. And we're winning a higher share of display, the best type of merchandising vehicle, on some of our most productive categories, including cereal and snack bars. These efforts are translating into broad-based improvement in our U.S. retail sales trends, with absolute retail sales growth in seven of our top nine categories in the third quarter.

In addition to our strong fundamentals, we're maintaining a disciplined approach to our pricing. As you can see in the chart, our baseline and merchandise price points have been higher than last year throughout fiscal '18, including the third quarter. Our average unit price was slightly down in the quarter, as our proportion of merchandising was higher this year. This was really driven by prior year comparison, when our merchandising levels were abnormally low. When you look over a two-year period, our average prices across our portfolio are up 4% and are outpacing our aggregate categories.

With that as a backdrop, let me share some third quarter highlights from North America retail and talk a little bit about what's to come for the remainder of the year. Our U.S. cereal retail sales were up more than 2% in the third quarter, driven by the same things I mentioned for the segment: better news and messaging, innovation, and execution in-store. There's no shortage of examples of good news and messaging on our cereal business this year. One of the most fun is our marshmallow news on Lucky Charms, which has helped drive double-digit retail sales growth so far this year. And we just announced our most recent initiative, magical unicorn marshmallows, which are in-store now. On Cheerios, our partnership with Ellen and activation across TV, digital, and social media, on-pack, and in-store have helped improve our baseline sales growth nearly 400 basis points since the campaign first launched. On Reese's Pops, we're launching a fourth quarter seasonal bunnies version to help continue the double-digit retail sales growth that brand has enjoyed so far this year.

And on the innovation front, we've had a stellar year. We launched Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios last October, and it was the best-selling new product in the category last quarter. And we'll continue to look to bring fun, limited edition seasonal flavors of Cheerios to the shelf with the launch of a new Peach flavor that's rolling out now.

On U.S. yogurt, we've improved our retail sales trades by 16 points this year by innovating into faster-growing spaces. Our retail sales were down just 3% in February, and we actually our grew market share in the grocery channel last month. We're pleased with our U.S. yogurt improvement, but we're not yet fully satisfied. We continue to improve by building on regional successes and by launching new category-expanding innovation. For instance, we recently launched two new flavors of Oui by Yoplait and Yoplait Mix-Ins, the top two yogurt launches this fiscal year. And we have another important launch planned for the summer that addresses some of the biggest health and wellness barriers in the yogurt category. You'll hear more about this news in the coming months.

Shifting to snack bars, Nature Valley has posted double-digit retail sales growth this year and is generating more retail sales dollar growth than any other brand in the category. These results have been driven by innovation. Nut Butter Biscuits and Granola Cups are the top two new products in the category for the last two years. And we're seeing solid results from this year's launches, including new Layer Bars and Filled Soft Bake Bars. U.S. retail sales for Lara Bar are up 30% this year behind our Real Food advertising campaign, and they're up almost 70% in Canada. We're also driving improvement on Fiber One by communicating what consumers value most about the brand, permissible indulgence. Retail sales trends for Fiber One last month were 900 basis points better than our fiscal '17 growth rate, thanks in part to our Brownie and Cookie Bites innovation.

Our soup and baking businesses rebounded from a challenging fiscal 2017 to grow retail sales and market share during the key season this year. We have great news planned in the fourth quarter on other meals and baking businesses. We just launched Totino's Mini Snack Bites, adding more fun and variety to this business, that grew retail sales 9% in the third quarter. And we'll look to drive more visibility for Old El Paso by securing 4,000 taco truck displays, which will be parked in the front of the stores where Mexican food merchandising performs best.

Finally, our North American natural and organic portfolio continues to lead our growth, with third quarter net sales up high single digits, including good performance on Annie's, Lara Bar, and Epic.

In our convenience stores and food service segment, third quarter net sales were up 3%, driven by a low single-digit growth for the Focus 6 platforms and benefits from index pricing on bakery flour. The frozen meals platform continues to perform well, including the new Pillsbury Stuffed Waffle, which is the top-turning breakfast item in C-stores where we have distribution. And our cereal platform delivered mid-single-digit growth this quarter, driven by continued distribution gains. Segment operating profit was down 10% in the quarter, driven by a higher transportation and logistics cost, as well as commodity inflation.

Turning to Europe and Australia, third quarter organic net sales were down 1%, with strong growth in snack bars offset by declines in other platforms. Constant currency segment operating profit was down 46% versus the last year, driven by significant raw material inflation and a comparison against 39% constant currency growth in last year's third quarter. Through the third quarter, or Europe and Australia segment is growing with its categories. Our snack bars and Haagen-Dazs platforms are performing exceptionally well, with double-digit retail sales growth driving strong market share gains. And on yogurt, although our retail sales in total are down, we are driving growth in many of our core brands, including Panet, Perodelet, Liberte, and Ya.

The fourth quarter is a key innovation window across all of our priority platforms in Europe and Australia. In yogurt, we will be the first major brand launching into the kids' organic segment with our leading Petite Falu brand. On Old El Paso, we're responding to the increasing number of gluten-avoidant consumers by introducing new gluten-free tortillas and Mexican kits. We're launching new flavors to bring excitement to the freezer on Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and we'll continue to invest in TV and media on Nature Valley Snack Bars to drive increased household penetration. And in Australia in January, we began advertising Fiber One for the first time, which has helped drive 20% retail sales growth for the brand.

In our Asia and Latin America segment, third quarter organic net sales were in line with last year, with good growth in our Asia markets offset by continued topline challenges in Brazil. While our improvement in Brazil has taken longer than we expected, we're making progress and delivering net sales growth in the quarter on some key businesses, including Yoki Popcorn and Kitano Seasonings. The third quarter is typically this segment's lowest operating profit quarter of the year, which means even smaller absolute dollar changes drive big percentage changes in results. Last year, we earned a $10 million profit in the quarter, and this year, the result was a loss of $2 million. The $2 million change was primarily driven by a lower volume and higher manufacturing and logistics cost in Brazil. We expect this segment will return to profit growth in the fourth quarter behind strengthening topline performance.

Our snack bars and ice cream platforms led Asia and Latin America in net sales performance in the quarter. Net sales for our snack bar business in India more than doubled in the quarter, driven by continued distribution expansion of our Pillsbury Cookie Cake and the launch of our new Pillsbury Pastry Cake. We're also launching a similar pastry cake to our Middle East markets under the Betty Crocker brand. Haagen-Dazs retail sales increased high single digits the last three months in Asia, driven by our mochi innovation and activation during the holiday season. Looking ahead, our refreshed Haagen-Dazs packaging is rolling out across Asia, and we are supporting this with a campaign to celebrate the extraordinary creations of artisans around the world. We're also launching spring limited edition flower flavors, cherry blossom and lavender blueberry, and will support them with an omnichannel activation, including in our shops.

At CAGNY, I outlined our compete, accelerate, and reshape framework for restoring consistent topline growth, and I just shared how we're competing more effectively in fiscal '18 across many of our brands and geographies. We've also taken a significant step this year to reshape our portfolio with the acquisition of Blue Buffalo pet products. Before I close, let me refresh you on the details of the transaction and share why we're so excited about adding Blue to our family of brands.

Last month, we announced our intent to acquire Blue Buffalo for $40.00 per share, representing an enterprise value of roughly $8 billion. Blue Buffalo is a highly attractive asset, playing in the fast-growing wholesome natural pet food category, with $1.3 billion in revenues, 25% EBITDA margins, and a consistent history of double-digit growth on the top and bottom lines. After the deal closes, which we expect will occur before the end of May, Billy Bishop, the current CEO of Blue Buffalo, will lead a new pet operating segment for General Mills. Blue Buffalo is a truly unique asset in an attractive category that is still in the early stages of transformation. At $30 billion in sales in the U.S. pet food market, it is one of the largest in the center store. It has generated consistent growth and strong profitability over many years, with low private label exposure.

These days, more and more pet owners, especially millennials, see their pets as another member of the family. This humanization of pets, combined with a growing consumer interest in more natural products, has driven a dramatic increase in what we call the wholesome natural pet foods category. And this transformation is still in the early innings, with wholesome natural products still making up only 10% of total category volume, up from 5% five years ago. What's most exciting to us is that Blue Buffalo is leading the category transformation. The Blue brand has the strongest brand equity in the category, with a clear number one position in wholesome natural pet food, as well as the number one overall pet brand in the e-commerce and pet mass channels. And Blue is still in the early stages of expanding into the broader food, drug, and mass, or FDM, channels, which represent fully half of pet food retail sales in the U.S.

Since the announcement, I've had some analysts and investors ask me, isn't this a new category? And how will General Mills create value in this transaction? I think they've been pleasantly surprised when I explained that in many ways, pet food is not a new category, as some people think. And the value creation playbook will look similar to the one we've used very successfully for the Annie's acquisition over the last three years. Our industry-leading retail sales force, retail partnerships, and sales capabilities will help increase the likelihood of success of Blue's FDM expansion. We will also leverage our technical capabilities in extrusion and thermal processing to drive innovation across dry and wet pet food. We'll utilize our sourcing expertise and distribution network to enhance Blue's supply chain efficiency. We'll look for ways to help the Blue Buffalo team to nurture and grow this modern, authentic 21st century brand, and we'll stay out of their way where they don't need us.

Finally, we'll be selective in where we can drive admin synergies, with a focus on back office and public company costs. We took a very similar approach to Annie's, and it has resulted in net sales doubling in a little over three years since the acquisition. And I can tell you, if we're even half as successful as Blue Buffalo, our shareholder will be very happy with this acquisition.

Over the past month, key leaders from my team and I have spent time in Wilton, Connecticut with "the herd," as they call themselves, and Billy and his leadership team have visited our marketing, sales, and R&D teams in Minneapolis. The more we get to know each other, the more we see how compatible our cultures are and how synergistic our capabilities are in a variety of function areas, and we cannot wait to get moving on continuing to grow this terrific brand as part of the General Mills portfolio.

Let me wrap up by summarizing today's comments. We're competing more effectively, and it's translating into good momentum on the topline in fiscal 2018. At the same time, we've been challenged by sharper increases in supply chain costs that have negatively impacted our bottom-line outlook. We're moving with urgency to address these rising costs, with some actions taking effect now and more significant impact expected in fiscal '19. And finally, we're as excited as ever about Blue Buffalo, and we're confident that this transaction will deliver long-term value for our shareholders.

Now, let's open the call up for questions. Operator, will you please get us started?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you'd like to register a question, please press the 1 followed by the 4. You will hear a three-tone prompt to acknowledge your request. If a question has been asked by another and you would like to withdraw your registration, please press the 1 followed by the 3. If using a speakerphone, please lift your handset before entering your request. Our first question comes from the line of David Driscoll with Citi. Please proceed.

David Driscoll -- Citi Research -- Analyst

Great. Thank you, and good morning.

Jeff Siemon -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Good morning.

Jeff Harmening -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, David.

David Driscoll -- Citi Research -- Analyst

Given the retail environment, I get just a lot of questions about pricing and the ability for manufacturers to realize pricing at retail. So, you have profit challenges that you're talking about because of inflation. And Jeff, I think a lot of people are really gonna wonder, is this because of the inflationary side or is it because you just can't get pricing at retail? And then I think what you were saying on the call is maybe there was a bit of an internal failure to recognize the higher inflation as quickly as you would probably expect your organization to do so. I would really emphasize the fact that investors just worry so much that the retail environment is so difficult that companies can't get pricing, so I'd really appreciate your thoughts on that question and just a little bit more explanation on what happened here and then how it really goes forward if you in fact have the ability to recognize some price increases.

Jeff Harmening -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

All right, Dave, let me start off by addressing the pricing environment and kind of what we're doing to offset our costs, just in general. Then I'll turn it over to Don if he has any more specifics. In terms of the pricing environment itself, first what I would say is that we will increase our increased costs by a combination of factors, which starts with addressing our cost structure itself. And there are some nearer term things we can do with supply chain. There are some longer things we can do in terms of our logistics network. And we have our ongoing HMM program in addition to what we're doing with ramping up global sourcing. So, kind of the first line of defense against rising costs is to make sure we're managing our costs effectively. And rest assured that we are doing that and moving with an increased sense of urgency since discovering that we'll have higher input costs than we had thought.

On the net pricing realization side, I can imagine people listening could be nervous because we took pricing a couple years ago, and that didn't exactly go out as planned. What I would tell on that is a couple things. First is that the environment now is very different than two years ago. And the environment two years ago when we took pricing, there was really a deflationary pressure on input costs. And now we see an inflationary pressure. And as I said, we're looking at our input costs going up by 4%, and then a lot of the spot market for commodities are that high or even higher. So, we see a very different environment from that sense. What I will also tell you is that what we see on the logistics side is very real, and our customers face it all the time. And we get a lot of questions from our customers about what we're doing to offset the logistics cost, because they see the same kind of pressures in their business. So, the environment is different.

The second thing that I would say is a couple of years ago, we took more pricing than clearly we should have. And we took about 5% pricing in fiscal '17. And we don't need that kind of pricing to offset the kind of environment we have right now. Just a little bit of pricing. And our categories are already a 1 to 2% pricing consistently quarter to quarter. Just a little bit of pricing combined with these cost measures will really help alleviate the pressure and input costs. And then finally, I would say that our capability is a lot greater in our strategic revenue management now than it was two years ago. We've hired some people from the outside combined with some internal experts. So, yeah, we can realize prices in a variety of ways. And that includes trade optimization and price pack architecture, in addition to some more of the traditional pricing. And so, we feel as if our capability is a lot greater than it was a year ago.

In terms of cost and seeing the cost, Don, do you have anything that you want to add to that?

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, let me just finish the point that Jeff talked about on pricing. If you look at our results year-to-date, we are seeing better competitives in the store, but it's also being supported by pricing. Our Q3 organic positive price mix is higher than in the first half, and for three of our segments, it was up low single digits. And where it was flat, as Jeff showed, it was both our base and our merchandise prices were up. So, the flat was more of a product of the mix of those. So, we do believe it's environment, especially with the inflation where you can get price. And Jeff alluded to many of the instruments that we will use.

The other aspect of your question, David, was visibility to our cost. And again, Jeff touched on it upfront, but I think it's worth going into again. And historically, and this year, we've done deep dive estimates on our cost at regular intervals during the course of the year. And that cadence has typically served us well in managing our costs and our margins. And frankly, if you look back over the years, we've seldom had a profit miss in a year such as this one, when our sales are tracking at our better than planned. But clearly in hindsight, this year was a very dynamic cost environment. The combination of our higher volumes, some constrained platforms, the increasing inflationary environment. We should have gone deeper more frequently. It might not have reduced the cost, but it would have gotten us out ahead of it faster. As I look at it, we need to be just as agile in how we manage our cost structure as we've been this year in meeting consumer demands, and that's what we're focused on doing. The actions that we're taking now are to make sure that we address the cost structure in the marketplace. But we're moving just as urgently to look at our estimating and forecasting process to make sure this doesn't happen again.

David Driscoll -- Citi Research -- Analyst

Don, one follow-up. The first half of the year had very sizable trade accrual phasing expense comparison issues. They were negative, and it was supposed to get significantly better here in the back half. Given all that's happened on the cost side, I can't really tell what's occurred on trade phasing. Did the trade accruals perform as you expected? Can you give some color on that?

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, they did, David, thank you. We had a headwind in the first half. We'll have a tailwind in the second half. That's part of the reason that we're confident -- more confident in profit growth in the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, because we've had very strong merchandising take on our seasonal businesses and in some of our other lines here in the U.S., because we had very strong offerings in the store -- again, not lower price, but better off-take from a consumer standpoint. And as I referenced, we are also moving more of our consumer funds to in-store activity. Much of that is recorded as a deduction to sales as opposed to in the advertising or the admin or the SG&A line. And the combination of those things offset the benefit from the tax accrual reversal -- the trade accrual reversal, excuse me -- in the quarter.

David Driscoll -- Citi Research -- Analyst

Okay, I'll pass it along. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Robert Moskow with Credit Suisse. Please proceed.

Robert Moskow -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hey, I think I have two questions here. Don, I have to ask again about the presentation at CAGNY and what kind of data you had at hand at the time, because you did lower guidance for higher freight costs at that time, and so you must have had some kind of a roll-up of how much spot activity was going on during the quarter. So, what was wrong with the data? I guess that's the first question. And then second, I guess broader on pricing, you do have on slide 22 a chart that shows that your baseline pricing is still positive, but it keeps decelerating, and it's now at 0.8%. It needs to go the other way to offset all this inflation that you're talking about. And I think you've kind of stopped short today of saying that you're looking at taking list price increases again. It seems like you're talking about revenue management and some other things, but can we see some list price increases coming maybe in the back half? Thanks.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

I'll take the CAGNY one first. Obviously, when we gave our guidance at CAGNY, that was based on the best information we had at that time. I mentioned the fact that we do periodic cost deep dives. We did one in February at the end of February, and we did it as we closed the books on the quarter in early March. And that is when these costs really came to the fore more clearly, and that's what's prompting the guidance change today. So, as I represented in the answer to David, we have done these at regular intervals. Clearly in today's environment, we have to do them more regularly and be more agile in terms of identifying the cost trends and making sure that they are surfaced and acted upon. And we will do that.

In terms of pricing, we are gonna use a number of levers in some markets and some businesses, it's going to be list price increases. We talked at CAGNY about our convenience and food service business. We're seeing the same in European business, particularly in response to Brexit that did just have a ripple effect in the UK and certainly in some of our emerging market businesses. So, that is part of the toolkit, but again, the toolkit for our SRM is broader than that. And we're gonna use all the levers as we attack what is clearly a higher inflationary environment.

Robert Moskow -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Andrew Lazar with Barclays. Please proceed.

Andrew Lazar -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

Good morning, everybody.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Good morning, Andrew.

Andrew Lazar -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

I know it's obviously too early to talk about specific sort of guidance and such for fiscal '19, but I guess I was hoping maybe, Don, you could go through just a couple of the puts and takes that we should be cognizant of even directionally as we think toward, I guess more specifically how operating profit sort of shapes up for next year. Obviously you've already talked at CAGNY looking to reinvest, and I think it was the majority of the benefit from tax reform. That obviously has an impact around EBIT growth next year. But I was hoping you could -- because there's just so many factors that are playing into this today. Anything you can get into around the puts and takes would be helpful.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Andrew, obviously we're not gonna give FY19 guidance today. What I will say is that the actions that Jeff walked us through as part of the prepared remarks will have some benefit in FY '18, they're gonna have more full benefit in FY19 and beyond, frankly. And that will come into play as we think about '19. You did mention the tax reform, and that will give us some potential flexibility to reinvest back in the business. And again, we still have the three planks that we are working to ensure that we drive a more competitive topline. That's compete, accelerate, and reshape. I think you're seeing this year how we're competing better. We've begun to put some money behind our accelerator platforms. We see a little bit of benefit this year, and we'll see more of that benefit as we move into '19.

Andrew Lazar -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

Okay. And then on the reshape part, obviously you talked about looking to divest a certain portion of the portfolio as well. Is that something that we think plays out over the course of the next, call it year or so? I'm trying to get a better sense of the timeframe on that. And obviously on some of these business, I would anticipate you probably have a fairly low tax basis as well, which I guess could potentially have an impact on EPS as well. I'm trying to get a sense of how to better think about that.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Our focus right now is obviously closing and transitioning Blue into the family. But we will quickly pivot following that to look at divestitures. Obviously the timing of many divestitures, you have to have a willing buyer to go with a willing seller, and we have to make sure the economics work, to your point about tax rate. So, we will work on that diligently, and I believe just as we've been successful on the acquisition side with identifying and bringing Blue in, we will do the same on the divestiture side.

Andrew Lazar -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Jeff Harmening -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

And when it comes to divestitures, what I would also add to that is that we don't have to do all the divestitures at the same time. I mean, we can do those at different times. And the second is that we're only gonna do them when they make sense for shareholders, and so when they're accretive to shareholder value. And so, we'll act with a sense of urgency, but we will also act with a sense of our shareholders in mind to make sure that as we go to divest some businesses, that we're doing so with an eye to that.

Andrew Lazar -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Michael Lavery with Piper Jaffary. Please proceed.

Michael Lavery -- Piper Jaffary -- Analyst

Thank you. Just looking at the fourth quarter, you've had an operating income decline year-to-date around 9 or 10%, even with a little bit of currency. Can you just help us understand how you really get to -- it looks like you need maybe about 10 in the fourth quarter. You've touched on some accelerating savings, but can you just really give us a roadmap for how you execute that sharp an improvement?

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. There's a few components to it, Michael, and it starts with another quarter of solid organic sales growth. As we look forward, we expect mix to strengthen in each of the segments. Cereal and snacks will be the driver in OR, and it will also actually benefit a little less from our meals and baking, our seasonal businesses. The Focus 6 businesses in CNF will accelerate in the fourth quarter. Old El Paso, Haagen-Dazs, behind the initiatives that Jeff talked about in EU/AU, and Haagen-Dazs and snacks in Asia with TAM. So, we have good programs behind each of those areas that will continue to drive out topline growth. We'll add some net price realization pricing in Brazil. I mentioned CNF in the UK and then the various SRM initiatives we're executing in the U.S. and elsewhere. And again, we'll have the trade accrual reversal that will benefit the topline and our profit in Q4.

So, that's really the main driver. And when you translate that into profit, you're going to have the benefit of that mix, the benefit of the trade realization. We'll actually also get the benefit of some volume leverage in Brazil as we improve our volume performance in that important market behind a couple of strong promotions, one around the World Cup. We'll get increased benefit from our global sourcing initiative that will increase our HMM in the quarter. And then again, the other items that Jeff talked about, particular around our freight spending, will begin having some impact, some favorable impact in the fourth quarter. And the combination of those things in relatively equal measure. A little bit more from price mix, but relatively equal measure across will benefit Q4 and help drive a profit growth figure for the quarter.

Michael Lavery -- Piper Jaffary -- Analyst

And is it fair to assume that what had initially at the beginning of the year been a headwind from higher incentive comp maybe isn't anymore? And then could you quantify what that might be doing to help?

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. That will be less of a headwind for the year. That is true, and that will benefit the fourth quarter.

Michael Lavery -- Piper Jaffary -- Analyst

And just lastly, on the portfolio when you think about the divestitures, you've got at the moment this logistics and freight pressure, but you also have dry, refrigerated, and frozen supply chains. Does reducing that complexity come into your thinking at all in how you evaluate what you may think about divesting?

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

That's a really good question. It doesn't come into play into what we think about divesting. But as we're thinking about our supply network, we need to think about what we're divesting as we think about retooling that. And so, it's a really good question. And it doesn't impact what we would intend to divest, but it would have an impact on how we think our logistics network ought to be set up going forward. And so, we think about those two things coming together.

Michael Lavery -- Piper Jaffary -- Analyst

Okay, thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Ken Goldman with J.P. Morgan. Please proceed.

Ken Goldman -- J.P. Morgan Equity Research

Hi. I just wanted to follow up a little bit on Dave Driscoll's question earlier, because I think the answer focused on now versus two years ago. But if you go back a little longer in time, go back to fiscal 2008, Mills had 7% inflation, yet still beat its earnings target. Fiscal 2009, 9% inflation, gross margin barely changed. I know you guys were in different seats at the time, but something has changed. And again, to Dave Driscoll's question, is it just this much harder to take list pricing no matter what, or is it more a case of, hey, maybe items like freight, items on that sort of perimeter that are not exactly food stuff oriented are harder to pass? I'm just trying to get a sense of really -- and I know you've addressed this to some extent, but Dave is right. This is really the question we're getting a lot, of really what the problem is this time, because the inflation's not nearly as bad as what you experienced ten years ago, yet the results are much worse.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

So, a couple things. You referenced 2008. And again, I was sitting in the cereal chair in 2008, which is when we did Right Size, Right Price, which is kind of a fancy term for price pack architecture. So, when you think about strategic revenue management, that was kind of the mother of all strategic revenue management initiatives. And so, when I talk about price pack architecture, and crate optimization, and those kind of things, 2008 was a year that we certainly did that in the cereal business and saw great results from that. And so, a lot of positive lessons to be learned from that. I would tell you what's different about now is that the inflation -- as you mentioned, 4% is certainly a point higher in significant inflation about 3, but it is not something that can't be managed. We just have to make sure we see it coming. And now that we know that it's coming, now we feel like we can manage it effectively, because as the input costs, whether they're 4 or 5% is not unprecedented, it's just higher than we had expected. And then we hadn't taken any actions to offset it. Now that we see it, we have a good degree of confidence that with combining our -- what we can save on logistics costs and the way that we can reframe our logistics network, combined with a little bit of net price realization, we can actually combat this. Because as you've said, we've done it before. We just didn't have the line of sight to it until recently that we needed to have to combat it.

Ken Goldman -- J.P. Morgan Equity Research

Okay, and a quick follow-up for me. You're using more co-packers, I think, than you expected, but you're also hopeful that your volumes continue to rise. If this is the case, if your volumes do improve, then you'll need to rely even more on co-packers, which I'm sure you don't want. So, as we think about 2019 and beyond -- again, you're not giving guidance, but is it reasonable for us to expect you'll want to invest in capex a bit? Otherwise I guess that co-packing issue will just accelerate further.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Well, Ken, we've always used co-packers, particular for a lot of our new product volume, because there's a lot of times ready capacity and capability, and obviously there's risk mitigation from our standpoint as well. And then what we've seen is as new products become stable in the marketplace that we bring them internally and we see savings, and that's what we put capital against. And we'll take the same approach here. It doesn't necessarily mean that capex will be higher than normal. We just made the skewing more toward bringing this new product volume in house.

Ken Goldman -- J.P. Morgan Equity Research

Okay. Thanks so much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Alexia Howard with Bernstein. Please proceed.

Alexia Howard -- Bernstein -- Analyst

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for the question. So, I guess to begin with, it actually looks as though the profit pressure is greater in the international market at the moment. And yet a lot of the conversation today has been about perhaps not realizing the kind of profit growth that you might have expected in North American resale. I'm just wondering if you can just go region by region and talk about what's happening to the pricing profit declines in those international markets. And then secondly, on the Blue Buffalo acquisition, do you have a new updated guide on where the levers might go to in light of the EBIT shortfall this year? Thank you.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Alexa, yeah, it tends to hit both regions. In the EU/AU, the year-to-date margins are being impacted primarily by raw material inflation, especially dairy and vanilla, which has spiked significantly this year. And then we have some currency-driven inflation on products imported in the UK, so some transaction effects. And most of those particularly pointed in our EU/AU business this year. As we look at Q4, we expect to see some improvement. We're gonna get some price mix improvement. I mentioned that Old El Paso and Haagen-Dazs will lead the growth, and those are both higher margin lines. We do moderating input costs in EU/AU. A little bit different than here in the U.S. as they lapse, some of the initial spikes in the dairy and vanilla costs from a year ago.

We're gonna see increased cost savings. I mean, one of the manufacturing consolidation projects that we've had under way was in EU/AU, and we're still in the first year of seeing those savings, so those will increase. And it will be partially offset with some median advertising expense to supported that topline. But we expect to see improvement in the fourth quarter. And as I mentioned that actually frankly, a lot of the same factors in terms of transaction effects as the maybe more unique factors to ASLA because of Brazil is lower volumes as well. And so, as we look at Q4, we're gonna see improvement because we're gonna get better price mixture and we're gonna get better volume performance in Brazil as we come out of an ERP insulation. And the cost headwinds will lessen a bit. So, that's in the quarter, but I think your question's a broader one as well, and I think it is a good one.

As we look at those two segments, we're very pleased over the long run with our topline. We have been very competitive and actually market-leading in both of those areas over the longer term in our topline growth, and we have been investing in those businesses to maintain that growth or drive that growth. And I think we have the opportunity as we go forward to better balance the topline growth in the margin performance. And so, as we build our FY19 plan and beyond, that will certainly be something that we have in mind in both of those regions.

Alexia Howard -- Bernstein -- Analyst

And then on the leverage?

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Oh, on the leverage, it may go up a tick because of the lower profit. I think we got it at 4.2, 4.3. If it moves, it'll be by 0.1.

Alexia Howard -- Bernstein -- Analyst

Okay, thank you very much. I'll pass it on.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Akshay Jagdale with Jefferies. Please proceed.

Akshay Jagdale -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Good morning. Thanks for the question. I wanted to sort of unpack the profit equation a little bit. And I need help understanding what you think is transitory versus structural, right? So, you've got an issue with the commodity cost spiking. And I think what I see as different from years past is these costs that have gone up aren't hedge-able, right? So, the visibility on them is inherently lower, so the reaction time, I guess, has to be faster. So, in the months to come and the quarters to come, you'll have to show that your brand is strong enough to pass that on, right? So, that will have to play itself out. But what I'm more concerned about and the questions we get is you're having this really nice performance improvement on the sales side. How much visibility do you have on the incremental profitability from these new products and the sales growth that you're seeing? Are these inherently lower profitable products, or how are you thinking about that? Because you've had some issues with visibility. I wonder if this sales growth is coming at any cost, right? Is it a competitive issue? I'm just trying to better understand that because it has major implications going forward. Thank you.

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Yeah, we obviously, with all of our new products in terms of their incrementality, both in the top and the bottom line, Oui is a great example where we're generating more on a per cup basis than on a base product, even though the margin percentage themselves is not materially different. But you have a higher price point. Because what we're seeing this year is our new product volume is performing very well, as Jeff showed -- almost 50% better than a year ago. And because We do those externally, because we're seeing also the need to, from a co-packer standpoint and within our logistics network, more miles as we reposition product to meet consumer demand, we're having additional cost accrued to those businesses. It's not necessarily because of the new product economics. That is, we bring those in house as we structurally change our logistics network, the margins on those projects are going to be very competitive with our current business. But it's a major of getting the structure right. And as Jeff alluded to, that's one of the projects that we have under way to enhance our entire cost structure. And that will accrue to the benefit of many of these new products that are driving the higher volume.

Jeff Harmening -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

And I will put a finer point on that. I think it's a good question, actually. But I want to reiterate, our topline performers, particularly in North America retail, and CNF, and Europe and Australia, and even Asia, I couldn't be more pleased with the way that we have been able to pivot and grow our topline and the economics behind that. And there have been a lot of questions about that and the environment, and did we buy volume. And I just want to unequivocally say I love the way that we're executing. Our sales and our marketing teams are executing well together. Our marketing campaigns are better. Our new products are together. So, I am certainly displeased with our profit performance in the third quarter and the fact that we didn't see some of this coming as much as we should have, but I'm really pleased with what the organization has done about returning to growth.

You asked about the cost. I would say that I think from a logistics standpoint, I mean, I think it is more structural. We had a tightage in labor supply. We have new regulations that started in December, which will fully become operational in April, and we are hitting a moving target. But I think our logistics costs are structural. I don't think that they're gonna go down. And what we're seeing on the commodities side is certainly going up, and it ebbs and flows over time. I'm not sure that it's structural as much as it is point in time. But I think the logistics costs are, which is one of the reasons why we need to have some net price realization, why we feel like we can, because everyone's feeling it in the industry. Our competitors are feeling it, we're feeling it, our customers are feeling it. And so, as we look for net price realization, I think that part is structural.

Akshay Jagdale -- Jefferies -- Analyst

And any implications from anything you're facing in your base business on how you think about integrating Buffalo, Blue Buffalo?

Jeff Harmening -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

No, I'm glad you asked about that. First of all, Blue Buffalo, I think of as a transition rather than an integration. I mean, Blue Buffalo is gonna be a separate operating segment. And so, there'll be some integration, and the synergies we have accounted for are actually quite low relative to other deals that we have done. And so, it will operate relatively independently, and we'll help them on the sales side where we can We'll help them on the supply chain costs. But I can tell you, even over the last month since we announced the deal and got to know their leadership team, they've got a very strong leadership team. And I think their strong leadership team, not only Billy Bishop but the rest of the team, combined with our capabilities -- I will tell you that even in the months since we announced the acquisition, we feel more confident than we have even before about our ability to execute against Blue Buffalo well.

Akshay Jagdale -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Thank you. I'll pass it on.

Jeff Siemon -- Vice President, Investor Relations

All right, unfortunately, I think we're past time. I know there's still a lot of questions out there, so please don't hesitate to give me a call later today. Thanks, everyone, for joining us this morning, and have a good rest of your day.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the conference call for today. We thank you for your participation and ask that you please disconnect your line.

Duration: 63 minutes

Call participants:

Jeff Siemon -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Jeff Harmening -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Don Mulligan -- Chief Financial Officer

David Driscoll -- Citi Research -- Analyst

Robert Moskow -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Andrew Lazar -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

Michael Lavery -- Piper Jaffary -- Analyst

Ken Goldman -- J.P. Morgan Equity Research

Alexia Howard -- Bernstein -- Analyst

Akshay Jagdale -- Jefferies -- Analyst

More GIS analysis

This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

10 stocks we like better than General MillsWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and General Mills wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of March 5, 2018

The Motley Fool is short shares of General Mills. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.