Sales Rise as Profits Slip in First Quarter for Campbell Soup

Andrew Klips  |

Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) said Tuesday its first-quarter fiscal 2013 sales increased 8 percent to $2.34 billion versus $2.16 billion in the year prior quarter as new soup and sauce lines boosted sales.  Net earning for the food maker were down to $245 million, or 78 cents per share, from $265 million, or 82 cents per share in Q1 fiscal 2012 as the company booked charges related to closing two plants in the U.S. and acquiring food and juice manufacturer Bolthouse Farms.

In September, the world’s biggest soup maker reported plans to close a spice plant and its Sacramento plant, the oldest Campbell soup plant in the country, to save money amidst fleeting sales and higher costs.   On July 9, the Camden, NJ-based company it was spending $1.55 billion in cash to buy Bolthouse Farms from Madison Dearborn Partners.  The purchase added 8 percent to sales last quarter.

Excluding one-time items, profits totaled 88 cents per share.  Wall Street analysts on average were expecting earnings of 85 cents a share and revenue of $2.36 billion.

A decrease in sales for V8 vegetable and V8 V-Fusion juices tempered overall gains with sales from the beverage arm of the business dropping five percent to $189 million.

Campbell has been trying to re-brand itself to grow beyond its iconic roots and appeal to the younger generations, including loading grocers’ shelves with products in plastic bags, rather than steel cans.  The strategy added about 3 percent to its flagship soup and sauces business in the first quarter, hoisted by a one percent rise in volume and two percent rise in price.

“In our largest business, U.S. Simple Meals, we generated sales growth both in U.S. Soup and in U.S. Sauces, driven by innovation in our base business and by new product introductions,” said Denise Morrison, Campbell’s President and Chief Executive Officer in today’s statement.

Campbell Soup, which also makes Prego pasta sauce and Pepperidge Farm products, stood by its full-year guidance with the earnings release.  The company said it expects adjusted earnings of $2.51 to $2.57 per share for fiscal 2013 and sales increases of 10 percent to 12 percent, largely from the Bolthouse acquisition.  The forecast is in line with analyst predictions of profits of $2.54 a share.

Shares of CPB are trading down by 1.2 percent at $36.50 just after the opening bell on Tuesday.  Shares are ahead about 18 percent in 2012 with a  new 52-week high of $37.16 hit on Monday.

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