ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) raised its full year earnings outlook for the fiscal year of 2013, as the company posted a strong financial performance for the first quarter. The maker of Healthy Choice, Banquet, and Marie Callender’s expects its full year earnings per share (EPS) to be in the range of $2.03 to $2.06, higher than its previous $1.95 to $1.99 per share forecast.
The company also increased its quarterly dividend by 1 cent to 25 cents per share. Its annual dividend becomes $1.00 per share starting December 2012. The company’s total dividends for the three month period ending on August 26 was $98 million.
ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) reported a profit of 44 cents per share, excluding one-time items, due to strong marketing investments and acquisitions. Its earnings are higher than the 35 cents per share consensus estimate from analysts.
The company earned $250.1 million, or 61 cents per diluted share from continuing operations, up by 177 percent, compared with its $93.8 million or 22 cents per share earnings last year. ConAgra’s total sales increased by 7 percent to $3.31 billion; higher than the $3.24 billion average estimate by analysts. Its sales result during the quarter was boosted by its acquisitions of Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s Home Menu frozen meals, from Unilever, Plc.(NYSE:UL).
The sales for its consumer segment increased by 8 percent t0 $2.04 billion. Its commercial foods unit gained 5 percent to earn $1.3 billion, due to the strong performance of its Lamb Weston potato operations. ConAgra’s best performing brands during the quarter include Act II, LightLife, Marie Callender’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, Rosarita, Wesson, PAM, and Peter Pan.
The company’s operating profit increased by 20 percent to $235 million, compared with its $196 million operating profit during the same period last year.
In a statement, ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG)’s CEO Gary Rodkin said, “We are very pleased with our strong start to fiscal 2013. Based on continued momentum in our potato operations, effective management initiatives across the portfolio, and contribution from acquisitions, we are able to post a strong EPS performance. We have raised our EPS expectations for fiscal 2013, while continuing to make strong levels of marketing investment a part of long-term brand building initiatives.”
The company said it expects to ease the price hikes being passed to consumers, due the possible reduction of inflation for ingredient costs in 2013, which would result in a higher sales volume.
ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) repurchased approximately 2,95 million of its common stock, worth around $75 million, during the current quarter. The company’s stock value is up by almost 7 percent to $27.37 per share during the morning trading at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.