SAN FRANCISCO — Higher sales of Emerald and Diamond brand nuts helped drive a 43% gain in earnings at Diamond Foods, Inc. Net income in the second quarter ended Jan. 31 totaled $8,814,000, equal to 53c per share on the common stock, up from $6,144,000, or 38c per share, in the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter were $184,169,000, up 22% from $150,588,000.

“Profitability benefited from greater Emerald sales, and improved mix of Diamond culinary and in-shell sales, and a later walnut crop this year than last, which shifted sales of non-retail products from the first fiscal quarter to the second,” said Michael J. Mendes, president and chief executive officer. “Given the greater visibility we now have into the balance of our fiscal year, we are raising e.p.s. guidance on the expectation of higher snack and total sales.”

Diamond Foods raised its earnings-per-share guidance for fiscal 2010 to $1.79 to $1.83 per share, up from $1.75 to $1.83. Meanwhile, the forecast for total net sales was raised to $595 million to $610 million from $585 million to $605 million previously, and total snack sales were raised to $230 million to $240 million from $220 million to $230 million previously.

For the six months ended Jan. 31 the company had income of $23,744,000, or $1.43 per share, up 41% from $16,840,000, or $1.03 per share, during the same period of the previous year. Sales for the period were $364,810,000, up 5% from $346,114,000.