North American sales dip at Heinz as profit increases

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The H.J. Heinz Co. reported profit of $258 million in the first quarter, up from $226 million in the same period a year earlier, with the Pittsburgh company reporting strong sales growth in emerging markets.

Heinz reported earnings per share of 80 cents, compared to 70 cents per share a year ago. Earnings from continuing operations were 87 cents per share, exceeding analysts' expectations.

Total reported sales dropped to $2.79 billion versus $2.8 billion a year earlier, but unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates played a role in that number for the global company.

Based just on volume and price, sales were up 4.8 percent, Heinz said in its announcement this morning. Also on that basis, emerging markets, including China and Brazil, produced 19.3 percent sales growth.

North American sales dipped 2 percent to $759 million. Gains driven by new product innovations such as Ore-Ida Grillers and new Smart Ones breakfasts and meals, as well as new package sizes and product formats, were partially offset by the move to abandon its T.G.I. Friday's frozen meals line, the company said.

Unfavorable foreign exchange translation rates help drive sales declines in Europe and in the Asia/Pacific region, although the company said sales results based on volume and price grew.

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Teresa F. Lindeman: or 412-263-2018.


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