General Mills exceeds guidance for fiscal 2009

by Keith Nunes
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MINNEAPOLIS — Full-year earnings per share for General Mills’ fiscal 2009 exceeded the company’s guidance of $3.87 to $3.89 due to good operating performance and a lower fourth-quarter tax rate. The company’s fiscal year ended on May 31, and detailed results are scheduled to be reported on July 1.

The company said its U.S. Retail business segment had strong growth in fiscal 2009 with reported net sales growing 10% and volume increasing 4% during the first nine months.

Foreign currency exchange is expected to have a negative impact on the International segment in 2009 and 2010, the company said.

General Mills said it is focusing on its higher-margin, branded product lines and its most attractive food service customer channels in the Bakeries and Foodservice segment. The company also divested food service businesses generating annual net sales of about $150 million during the past year. The company said the divestitures, the weak operating environment and an expectation of lower bakery flour pricing due to lower commodity costs will result in 2010 reported net sales for the segment to be below 2009 levels.

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