PITTSBURGH — Increases in branded ketchup sales and emerging market earnings boosted the H.J. Heinz Co. to net income of $287 million, equal to 88c per share on the common stock, in the third quarter ended Jan. 25, which compared with $277 million, or 84c per share, in the previous year’s third quarter.
While both operating income and sales within the company’s North American consumer products segment fell in the third quarter, Heinz plans to develop a range of new products that will focus on value in the U.S. economic environment.
In the mid-morning Friday, the day Heinz gave its third-quarter results, company shares on the New York Stock Exchange were trading at $54.15 per share, which was up from $52.10 at Thursday’s close.
Heinz in the third quarter recorded pre-tax charges of $34 million, or 7c per share, related to initiatives to improve global productivity and manufacturing efficiency.
Third-quarter sales increased to $2,918 million from $2,722 million in the previous year’s third quarter.
The company’s global portfolio delivered organic sales growth of 4.6%, which reflected a 4.2% increase in net pricing and 0.4% growth in volume. Acquisitions, net of divestitures, increased reported sales by 2.9%. Unfavorable foreign exchange translation rates decreased sales by 0.4%.
Within the North American consumer products segment, third-quarter operating income decreased to $227 million from $235 million in the previous year’s third quarter. The decrease reflected lower sales and higher commodity costs despite a reduction in general and administrative expenses.
Third-quarter sales in North American consumer products dropped to $829 million from $839 million. New products and improvements in frozen snacks and Heinz gravy added volume, but volume declined 2% as Heinz took pricing on Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, Classico pasta sauces and Heinz ketchup. The company’s decision to divest the Boston Market license impacted sales unfavorably by 2.1%.
The first round of new product launches in North America will include a 10-oz size of Heinz ketchup in stand-up pouch packaging with a spout at a suggested retail price of 99c; smaller versions of its Heinz yellow mustard, Heinz Worcestershire sauce and Heinz 57 sauce with each priced at about $1; Heinz home-style beans in four varieties; and a 1-lb version of Ore-Ida french fries at a suggested price of $1.99.
Within the U.S. food service segment in the third quarter, operating income increased to $48.3 million from $47.8 million while sales increased to $360 million from $353 million. Heinz Dip & Squeeze aided a volume increase in branded ketchup. Globally, sales of ketchup and sauces increased to $1,262 million from $1,139 million.
In the emerging markets segment, organic sales growth was fueled by strong performances in the Heinz and Master brands in China; the Heinz brand in Russia and Latin America; Complan nutritional beverages in India; and ABC sauces and drinks in Indonesia. Heinz acquiring Quero brand tomato-based sauces, ketchup and vegetables in Brazil drove an additional 3.6% increase in total company sales in the third quarter.
Asia/Pacific in the third quarter had operating income of $54 million, up from $43 million in the previous year’s third quarter, and sales of $632 million, up from $584 million. Europe in the third quarter had operating income of $162 million, down from $163 million, and sales of $855 million, up from $832 million. The rest of the world segment in the third quarter had operating income of $18 million, up from $8 million, and sales of $242 million, up from $114 million.
Companywide for the nine-month period ended Jan. 25, Heinz had earnings of $762 million, or $2.31 per share, which compared with $779 million, or $2.37 per share, in the same time period of the previous year. Nine-month sales of $8,599 million compared with $7,818 million.
Heinz narrowed its full-year e.p.s. outlook to a range of $3.32 to $3.34. The previous outlook was $3.24 to $3.34.