Satisfying results from food firms

From the Associated Press

Food makers General Mills and ConAgra reported solid second quarters and raised their guidance Thursday, and Wall Street greeted them like comfort food on a cold winter day.

Shares of both companies gained nearly 2% in a falling stock market.

ConAgra Foods Inc. had the most sizzle. Quarterly profit jumped 44% as the maker of the Healthy Choice and Chef Boyardee brands sold off a meats business sooner than expected, cut costs and got better results from its advertising. General Mills Inc. said profit rose 4% on growth across its businesses.

Prudential Equity Group analyst John McMillin said General Mills' performance was the more impressive.

"I think ConAgra did it on cost savings and share repurchases, and I think General Mills' numbers were more top-line driven," or based on increased sales, he said.

Sales in ConAgra's largest segment, consumer foods, were about flat at $1.8 billion in the quarter ended Nov. 26, although operating profit grew 17% to $286.7 million.

ConAgra said profit totaled $219.6 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with net income of $152.5 million, or 29 cents, during the same period last year. The company had repurchased shares in the quarter.

Shares of ConAgra rose 49 cents, or 1.8%, to $27.34.

General Mills, which makes Wheaties cereal and Yoplait yogurt, said revenue rose 5% to $3.47 billion from $3.29 billion during the same period last year.

The company earned $385 million, or $1.08 a share, up from $370 million, or 97 cents, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected profit of $1.03 a share on revenue of $3.4 billion.

Shares of General Mills rose 96 cents, or 1.7%, to $58.95.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World