ConAgra sees 1Q profit fall, raises outlook

OMAHA, Neb. - September 22, 2009

The maker of Chef Boyardee, Slim Jim and Reddi-wip also lifted its adjusted full-year earnings guidance on the strength of its consumer foods unit.

ConAgra earned $165.9 million, or 37 cents per share, for the period ended Aug. 30. That's down from $442.4 million, or 94 cents per share, a year ago.

The previous year's results included a gain of 71 cents per share related to the sale of its trading and merchandising operations.

Excluding a 1-cent-per-share charge related to investments, ConAgra's adjusted results of 38 cents per share topped the 34 cents-per-share estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates generally exclude one-time items.

Revenue dipped 3 percent to $2.96 billion on lower sales in its commercial foods segment, which missed Wall Street's $3.09 billion sales forecast.

Omaha-based ConAgra said the sales decline at its commercial foods segment - which makes up 37 percent of its revenue results - was due to reduced flour prices that were prompted by lower wheat costs.

The consumer foods division - which made up 63 percent of revenue - reported its quarterly sales edged up 1 percent to $1.86 billion as its Healthy Choice, Hunt's, Marie Callender's, Orville Redenbacher's and Snack Pack brands recorded market share gains and sales growth.

ConAgra said its 2010 adjusted earnings from continuing operations will likely be near $1.70 per share. Its prior forecast was for adjusted income from continuing operations in a range of $1.63 to $1.66 per share.

Analysts expect 2010 net income of $1.65 per share.

"We expect the balance of the year to show strong profits for (the consumer foods) segment due to manageable inflation, good cost savings, sales growth, and favorable mix," CEO Gary Rodkin said in a statement.

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