Company sales have declined for the past seven quarters.

MINNEAPOLIS — Third-quarter results at General Mills, Inc. finished in line with company expectations, as net earnings in the period ended Feb. 26 totaled $357.8 million, equal to 62c per share on the common stock, down 1.1% from $361.7 million, or 61c per share, in the same period a year ago. Net sales fell 5% to $3,793.2 million from $4,002.4 million, marking the seventh consecutive quarter that the Minneapolis-based company’s sales have declined.

The company’s share price fell as low as $59.51 on March 21 in mid-morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, down from the close of $60.26 on March 20 and well off the 52-week high of $72.95 set back in July 2016.

Ken Powell, General Mills
Ken Powell, chairman and c.e.o. of General Mills

“Our net sales declined due primarily to gaps in pricing and promotional activity in key U.S. businesses,” said Ken Powell, chairman and chief executive officer. “Our cost savings efforts helped us expand our adjusted operating profit margin and drive growth in adjusted diluted e.p.s. Looking ahead, we are highly focused on improving our top-line performance while continuing to expand our margins. We’ve added support in the fourth quarter to strengthen key business lines, and we’re pursuing global growth priorities that will further improve our sales trends beyond fiscal 2017.”

Operating profit in the North America Retail segment fell 6.5% during the third quarter, to $516.7 million. Sales in the segment also were lower, declining 7% to $2,499 million from $2,686.6 million in the same period a year ago. General Mills attributed the decline to double-digit declines in the U.S. Meals & Baking and U.S. Yogurt operating units.

Operating profit in the Convenience Stores and Foodservice unit increased 3% to $93.6 million from $90.6 million, but sales fell 1.1% to $448.5 million from $453.7 million. General Mills said declines on certain frozen dough products partially were offset by growth for the Focus 6 platforms, including cereal, biscuits and yogurt.

For the nine months ended Feb. 26, net earnings at General Mills totaled $1,248.6 million, or $2.12 per share, down 5% from $1,317.8 million, or $2.20 per share. Net sales fell 6.5% to $11,813.2 million from $12,635.2 million.