Campbell Soup says 4Q profit, sales rise

CAMDEN, N.J. - September 11, 2008 - The Camden, N.J.-based food company earned $89 million, or 24 cents per share, in the three months ended Aug. 3. That's up from a profit of $61 million, or 16 cents a share, a year ago.

Including a charge for restructuring, the earnings were $96 million, or 26 cents per share, up 81 percent from the adjusted year-ago profit of $53 million. or 14 cents per share.

The latest figures matched the consensus estimate from 14 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Its sales rose 13 percent to $1.72 billion during the quarter from $1.52 billion a year ago.

The company says it was aided by an extra week in the quarter and by charging consumers higher prices.

Domestic soup sales were also strong during the quarter which covered a part of the year when soup consumption is usually low.

Campbell's said sales of its condensed soups were up by 6 percent and its ready-to-serve products were up 5 percent.

The fiscal year overall, though, was tough for soup sales in the U.S. Campbell's reported a 2 percent increase - only 1 percent if factoring out the extra week.

But the company says its beverage sales increased by over 10 percent, partly because of an agreement to have Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. distribute its V-8 and V-8 V-Fusion juices.

International sales were up by 17 percent - largely due to a weak dollar that makes exports more attractive. The company did not give detailed data on its upstart broth businesses in Russia and China.

Its shares rose 20 cents to $37.80 in morning trading after rising to a 52-week high of $38.75 earlier inn the session.

For fiscal 2008 overall, profits were $1.17 billion, or $3.06 per share, up from $854 million or $2.16 per share a year earlier. Sales rose to $8 billion from $7.39 billion a year ago.

Campbell President Douglas Conant reiterated that the expects net earnings for fiscal 2009 to rise between 5 and 7 percent over last year.

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