Reuters reports that on September 6, the American soup maker Campbell Soup Co. said that its fourth-quarter earnings fell 12 per cent, because of a charge to restructure Australian manufacturing and of higher interest costs following the purchase of several European brands from Unilever Plc.
The company said earnings in the period ended July 29 fell to $52m (Euro58.11m), or 13 cents a share, from $59m (Euro65.9m), or 14 cents a share, a year ago. Before special items, earnings rose to $62m (Euro69.3m), or 15 cents a share.
According to market research firm Thomson Financial/First Call, Campbell was expected by analysts to earn between 12 and 20 cents a share, with a consensus at 17 cents. The company also forecast earnings below consensus expectations for its current fiscal 2002 first quarter.
The pressured earnings outlook is due in part to increased costs as Campbell boosts marketing spending and product investment for its products, especially its flagship red-and-white label condensed soup brands. Higher marketing expense may already be paying off, as Campbell claimed that year-to-date US consumer soup purchases were up 5 per cent.
Revenues in the fourth quarter rose 8 per cent to $1.33bn (Euro1.486bn) from $1.23bn (Euro1.374bn), of which five percentage points were attributable to Campbell's European Unilever product acquisitions, made in May.
Sales of soups and sauces, Campbell's largest category, were up 11 per cent in the fourth quarter to $856.6m (Euro957.2m) from $771.9m (Euro862.6m). For the full year, sales rose 3 per cent to $4.54m (Euro5.07m) from $4.39m (Euro4.9m).
The company noted improvement in its flagship condensed soup flavours, offsetting weaker full-year results for its other condensed brands. US consumer purchases of Campbell's condensed soups for the full year fell 2 per cent, an improvement from the 7 per cent decline of a year ago.
Full-year operating earnings for soups and sauces were down 3.3 per cent to $1.05bn (Euro1.17bn) from $1.08bn (Euro1.206bn), the result of higher marketing costs.
For the full year, Campbell's earnings fell to $1.55 (Euro1.73) a share from $1.65 (Euro1.84) a share a year ago.
Campbell forecast 2002 fiscal first-quarter earnings of 33 cents to 36 cents a share, below consensus estimates of 38 cents. It forecast $1.30 (Euro1.45) a share for the full year before special charges of 3 cents to 4 cents a share associated with restructuring in Australia.
Reconfiguring Australian operations resulted in a charge of about $9.3m (Euro10.4m), or 2 to 3 cents a share, while higher interest expense relating to the European acquisitions had an impact of 3 cents a share.