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H.J. Heinz posts higher-than-expected profit

Ketchup and packaged foods maker H.J. Heinz Co posted higher-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday, lifted by price increases.
/ Source: Reuters

Ketchup and packaged foods maker H.J. Heinz Co posted higher-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday, lifted by price increases and double-digit sales increases in all parts of the world.

The company also saw sales rise nearly 30 percent in its Plasmon baby food business.

The world’s largest ketchup maker also said full-year earnings would be in the upper half of its previous forecast.

Heinz, which also makes Ore-Ida potatoes and Smart Ones frozen meals, said profit was $229 million, or 72 cents a share, in the fiscal first quarter ended July 30, compared with $205.3 million, or 63 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average forecast 66 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Heinz, whose shares have risen nearly 11 percent this year, has been one of the better performing food companies, helped by its business overseas, new products in the United States and increased spending on marketing.

The weak dollar has helped lift sales outside the United States, but the company also has seen strong volume increases, a measure of sales that factors out price and currency fluctuations. Overall, volume rose 5 percent in the first quarter, the company said.

Sales rose 14.7 percent to $2.58 billion.

For the full fiscal year, Heinz now expects earnings of $2.87 to $2.91 a share, compared with its previous forecast of $2.83 to $2.91.