Thursday, March 10, 2011

General Mills (NYSE: GIS): Q3 Earnings Preview

General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) is scheduled to release fiscal third quarter results after the closing bell on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of 56 cents on revenue of $3.70 billion. In the year ago quarter, the company reported earnings of 49 cents per share on revenue of $3.63 billion.

General Mills Inc. manufactures and markets branded and packaged consumer foods worldwide. The company also supplies branded and unbranded food products to the foodservice and commercial baking industries. The company's brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Betty Crocker, Haagen-Dazs, Yoplait, Pillsbury and Totino's pizza. 

General Mills benefited from the recession as cash strapped consumers preferred to eat more meals at home and shifted to cheaper private label foods.  General Mills is also betting on older consumers to help fuel its long-term growth plans. Usually older people prefer to eat more at home and as the U.S. population ages; more people should be eating at home. General Mills expects these people to eat foods like Progresso soup, Yoplait yogurt and Fiber One cereal. 

In the preceding fiscal second quarter, the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company reported that its $613.9 million or $0.92 per share for the second quarter, compared with a profit of $565.5 million or $0.83 per share in the prior-year quarter. Excluding items, adjusted earnings for the quarter edged down to $507.4 million or $0.76 per share from the year-ago quarter's $523.0 million or $0.77 per share. Revenue rose 0.8% to $4.07 billion from $4.03 billion in the same quarter last year. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of $0.78 per share on revenue of $4.11 billion. 

At its last earnings call in December, Chairman and CEO Ken Powell stated, "In the second half of our fiscal year, we expect to deliver good sales and profit growth, fueled by ongoing product news and innovation, productivity savings from our holistic margin management (HMM) initiatives, and some contributions from pricing and mix. We see ourselves solidly on track to achieve our full-year sales and earnings growth target."

Last month, the company said that it continues to anticipate low single-digit growth in net sales, a mid single-digit increase in segment operating profit, and adjusted earnings between $2.46 and $2.48 per share.

The company also noted that its first-half results were generally on track and in line with strong year-ago performance as anticipated. It added that the second half is expected to show good sales and earnings increases, with gross margin expansion and faster earnings growth anticipated in the fourth quarter.

Further, the company also reaffirmed its sales and earnings targets for the full-year 2015, and reported on the progress towards accomplishing those targets. The senior executives of the company also detailed on the growth prospects for General Mills' global cereal business and for the company's fast-growing business in China.

The packaged food supplier's long-term growth model established in 2006 calls for low single-digit compound growth in net sales, mid single-digit growth in segment operating profits and high single-digit growth in earnings per share.

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