November 6, 2008


Sara Lee highlights 1Q meat products sales profit



Sara Lee Corp reported a 15 percent increase in profits during its first fiscal quarter of 2009 ended September 27, 2008.


The profits were driven by increased market share by its Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean, Senseo and Sara Lee brands.


The company said unit volume increased by 2.5 percent in its North American Retail segment, driven by Ball Park Hot Dogs, Hillshire Farm smoked sausage, cocktail links and lunch meats and Sara Lee Frozen sweet goods.


Ball Park hot dogs ended the summer grilling season strong, increasing market share by 2.3 points compared to last years' and strengthening its number-one market position of 22.4 percent, said the company in a news release, citing data from Information Resources Inc.


Overall, the Downers Grove, Ill.-based Company reported first quarter net income of US$230 million, or 32 cents per share, up from US$200 million, or 28 cents per share, a year ago. Price increases, favorable foreign currency exchange rates and the strong unit volume in North American retail drove the sales increase, despite weakness in its international bakery segment.


Excluding one-time items, Sara Lee earned 10 cents per share, which fell short of the average analyst estimate of 18 cents per share, according to Reuters. Wall Street reacted with a 12 percent drop in the share price to US$10.41 per share in late morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.


Sara Lee reported net sales of US$3.3 billion, up 9.6 percent from last year's first quarter.


Sara Lee reduced its forecast of full-year fiscal 2009 earnings by about 13 cents per share to a range of 99 cents to US$1.06 per share, driven by a change in projected foreign currency exchange rates and a higher number of shares outstanding as it is suspending its share repurchase programme.


The company said, given the current nature of the financial markets, most notably th credit market, the corporation has seized its share repurchase programme until market conditions improve.

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