Originally created 08/25/04

Heinz profits down, sales up



PITTSBURGH -- H.J. Heinz Co., the maker of ketchup and other foods, reported its first-quarter earnings fell 9 percent from results a year ago when its profits were boosted by the sale of some of its businesses to Del Monte.

Heinz said Tuesday it earned $194.8 million, or 55 cents per share, for the three months ended July 28 compared with $214 million, or 60 cents per share, during the same period last year.

The results were in line with expectations by analysts polled Thomson First Call, who were looking for earnings of 55 cents per share.

Excluding results from the Del Monte deal a year ago, earnings per share were up 7.8 percent for the quarter.

Heinz reported strong sales in North America, led by the launch of a new brand of french fries and by established brands such as Ore-Ida frozen potatoes.

Sales increased 5.7 percent to $2 billion compared with sales of $1.9 billion last year. It said sales grew 7.8 percent for its top 15 brands.

The company also reported strong sales in Europe, with the largest growth coming from the United Kingdom and Italy. Heinz said it benefited from foreign exchange rates and a 1.9 percent increase in volume.

Volume increases in Europe were offset by a 1 percent drop in pricing, due to market pressure in the Netherlands and New Zealand, the company reported.

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H.J. Heinz Co. at http://www.heinz.com