ConAgra 2nd quarter net income beats expectations

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Food maker ConAgra Foods said Tuesday that fiscal second-quarter net income fell nearly 15 percent as high food costs continued to pressure results.

ConAgra Foods Inc., like many food companies, is dealing with higher costs for ingredients, packaging and fuel and has raised its prices to offset those increases.

"The marketplace environment remains difficult due to continuing inflationary pressures and the impact of the current economy on consumers, so we are cautious about business conditions," said CEO Gary Rodkin.

Still, results for the Omaha, Neb.-based company were better than analysts expected and ConAgra reaffirmed its fiscal 2012 guidance.

The maker of Slim Jim, Chef Boyardee and other packaged foods says net income fell to $171.8 million, or 41 cents per share. That compares with $200.9 million, or 46 cents per share a year ago. Excluding one-time items related to derivatives and restructuring, net income was 47 cents per share. That's ahead of the 43 cents per share analysts expected, according to a poll by FactSet.

Revenue during the 13 weeks ended Nov. 27 rose 8 percent to $3.4 billion from $3.15 billion last year. Analysts expected $3.34 billion.

Sales of branded consumer foods, the company's largest division that makes up 63 percent of sales, rose 4 percent to $2.18 billion.

Top sellers were Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Hunt's, Marie Callender's, Orville Redenbacher's and others.

Sales of commercial foods, which make up 37 percent of sales, rose 16 percent to $1.23 billion, as the company raised prices because of higher wheat and potato costs.

Results from its Lamb Weston potato division improved due to cost cutting and higher volume.

ConAgra's outlook sees adjusted fiscal 2012 earnings per share growth in the low- to mid-single digit percentage range, with most growth concentrated in the fourth quarter, helped by higher prices and acquisitions.

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