Food conglomerate H.J. Heinz Co. (HNZ) is schedule to release first quarter earnings on Wednesday, but stoked excitement from investors at its annual shareholders meeting. CEO William Johnson said that the company expects to report strong earnings with net income growing 10 percent and organic sales increasing 5 percent for Q1. The news was enough to help push Heinz's stock price up to a new 52-week high, up as much as 3.2 percent on the day to $58.31.
If accurate, Johnson's numbers would be a nice surprise to analysts, who are expecting a slight dip in revenue and only a 2.6 percent increase in net income for the quarter. Heinz said the results are due to growth in emerging markets, improved productivity, higher margins and a favorable tax rate.
The company also maintained its quarterly dividend of $0.515 per share, which represents an annual yield of about 3.7 percent based on where shares are currently trading.
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