MINNEAPOLIS — The bar business of General Mills, Inc. continued to struggle in the third quarter ended Feb. 28, but company executive found positives in a March 24 earnings call.
“In bars, because it really is energy on the go, the fact that the category has been down recently is because people have not been on the go as much,” said Jeffrey L. Harmening, chief executive officer. “As people start to get out a little bit more, we’ve seen the category improve a little bit. In fact, I’m really pleased with our progress in terms of share. We’re competing effectively all over the world in the bars category — that would be the US, as well as Europe, as well in Australia.”
US snacks sales for General Mills dipped 3% to $476.1 million when compared with the previous year’s third quarter.
“I mean, a tough time where the grain snacks is down high single digits year-to-date,” said Jonathon J. Nudi, group president of North America Retail for General Mills. “Performance bars is down double digits. So again, that’s been the toughest to play.”
General Mills is growing market share in bars, he said.
“As many of you remember, we’ve been struggling with this category for the last few years, and our turnaround is really known by Nature Valley base brands,” Mr. Nudi said. “We’ve got some really strong marketing out there, some great news around recyclable wrapper that just rolled out as well as the No. 1 launch in the category, which is packed this past year. So we feel good about how we’re performing.”
Other categories performed well in the third quarter. Sales for US meals and baking increased 15% to $1.17 billion, and sales for US cereal rose 9% to $614.1 million.
Net earnings attributable to General Mills in the third quarter were $595.7 million, or 97¢ per share on the common stock, which was up 31% from $454.1 million, or 75¢ per share, in the previous year’s third quarter. Net sales rose 8% to $4.52 billion from $4.18 billion.
Over the first nine months of the fiscal year, net earnings attributable to General Mills were $1.92 billion, or $3.13 per share on the common stock, which was up 24% from $1.56 billion, or $2.56 per share, over the same time of the previous year. Nine-month net sales rose 8% to $13.60 billion from $12.60 billion.