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Cereal maker Kellogg to cut jobs as breakfast sales slide

Evan Olmstead, 2, looks at Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal at Piazza's grocery store in Palo Alto, Calif., Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Kellogg Co.'s first-qu...
Evan Olmstead, 2, looks at a box of Rice Krispies at Piazza's grocery store in Palo Alto, Calif., May 3, 2011. Kellogg Co said on Monday it is slashing its workforce by 7 percent after another sales decline in its morning foods business in the third quarter. Paul Sakuma

Tony the Tiger is not doing so grrrrreat...

Kellogg Co, the world's largest maker of breakfast cereals, says it will cut about 7 percent of its workforce and slash capacity by 2017, after reporting another quarterly decline in sales in its cereals business.

Shares of the maker of Tony's Frosted Flakes, as well as Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Eggo waffles rose 2 percent in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company's cereals business has been battling stiff competition from General Mills and private-label cereal brands. Increasing popularity of yoghurt, frozen egg sandwiches and other breakfast items has also hit the business.

Sales at Kellogg's U.S. morning foods business, which includes cereals such as All-Bran, Coco Pops and Froot Loops, fell 2.2 percent in the third quarter.

The job cuts are a part of a new four-year cost-cutting program called Project K to strengthen existing businesses in its core markets and increase growth in developing markets. Kellogg had about 31,000 employees globally at the end of 2012.

Project K, which includes eliminating excess capacity and consolidating supply chain infrastructure, is expected to result in pre-tax charges of $1.2 billion-$1.4 billion, the company said.

Kellogg reported a better-than-expected adjusted profit for the third quarter ended Sept. 28, helped by cost cuts. The company, which also makes Keebler cookies, Cheez-it crackers and Pringles potato chips, forecast full-year adjusted earnings at the low end of its previous estimate of $3.75-$3.84 per share, citing weaker-than-expected sales in certain food categories.

Analysts on average were expecting $3.77, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company cut its 2013 revenue growth forecast to 4-5 percent from 5 percent.

Net income rose to $326 million, or 90 cents per share, in the third quarter from $318 million, or 89 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding certain integration costs and expenses related to Project K, Kellogg earned 95 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected 89 cents.

The company said revenue was flat at $3.72 billion, in line with Wall Street estimates.