Heinz 1Q Profit Soars on Record Sales in Emerging Markets

Led by continued expansion in emerging markets and higher global sales of ketchup, HJ Heinz (NYSE:HNZ) revealed on Tuesday a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit, though it introduced a fiscal guidance short of Wall Streets view.

The Pittsburgh-based maker of ketchup and other food products for consumers and food-service customers posted net income of $234.9 million, or 70 cents a share, compared with $248.6 million, or 75 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding one-time items the company earned 78 cents, just ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 76 cents.

Revenue for the three months ended July 27 was $2.85 billion, up from $2.48 billion a year ago, beating the Streets view of $2.79 billion. Sales were led in emerging markets and through higher global volumes of ketchup.

Emerging markets generated a record 23% of our sales in the first quarter, up from 18% a year ago, Heinz CEO William Johnson said in a statement. Our strategy to accelerate growth in emerging markets organically and through acquisitions in countries with fast-growing populations helped Heinz deliver strong top-line growth and solid operating results despite the economic downturn in developed markets.

Higher prices last quarter helped to offset sharply rising commodity costs, Heinz said.

Looking ahead, the company expects to build on its first-quarter performance and said it believes it remains on track to deliver earnings in the range of $3.24 to $3.32 a share. Wall Street is looking for a full-year profit of $3.35.