Campbell Soup Company reported yesterday that profits for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 were up 32 per cent from the comparative period last year.
The company reported profits in excess of $210 million, (€177 million), or 51 cents per share for the quarter ended November 2nd. This figure increased from $161 million and 39 cents per share last year.
Sales increased 12 per cent from $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion. This is a continuing trend in recent times for the food giant as it is the fourth consecutive quarter in which they have posted double-digit increases in quarterly earnings.
Each of Campbell's main businesses saw an increase in both sales and profits. The high margin North American soup business boasted an 8 per cent growth in both revenue and profit.
Campbell's other lines, including crackers, cookies, juices and chocolates had higher sales in the US than soups.
Douglas R. Conant, Campbell's President and Chief Executive Officer said, "We have delivered a good first quarter and we are on target to deliver our earnings for the year. Our highest priority is to revitalize our US soup business through the introduction of more convenient, higher quality products. Strong consumer demand in the quarter for our 'M'm! M'm! Good! To Go' line of ready-to-serve soups in microwavable containers, including Campbell's 'Soup at Hand,' 'Chunky,' and 'Select' soups, demonstrates that our strategy is on target. In fact, consumer acceptance has significantly exceeded our expectations and we are now working to increase our production capacity.
"While our focus has been on successfully launching our soup convenience platform, we recognize the intense competitive activity in the marketplace, including broader price discounting. Despite this heavy promotional spending by competition, our key convenience brands - 'Chunky,' 'Select,' and 'Soup at Hand' - in aggregate grew shipments in excess of 10 per cent. We are confident that we have strong, competitive promotional programs in place in our more traditional ready-to-serve and condensed businesses as we enter the peak months of the soup season."
Conant added, "In our broader portfolio beyond soup, we are seeing many examples of strong marketplace performance, including 'V8' beverages, 'Pepperidge Farm,' 'Arnott's,' and our dry soup businesses in Europe. The investments we are making in quality, packaging, new products, and improved marketing are having an impact."
For the next quarter which ends at the end of January- the climates of which usually benefit soup profit in peak soup season, analysts are expecting earnings of 56 cents per share.
The Camden-based Campbell's is the world's largest soupmaker and also own brands that include Godiva chocolates, Prego sauces, V-8 juices and Peperidge Farm cookies and crackers.