Campbell beats expectations on stronger soup sales

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Campbell Soup reported third-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations and raised its outlook for the year as sales in its struggling soup unit improved.

The Camden, N.J.-based company, which also makes Prego sauces and Pepperidge Farm cookies, has been trying to reinvigorate its namesake business with new flavors and packaging targeted at people in their 20s and 30s. The push comes as Campbell faces more competition from supermarkets that are offering fresh, hot soups in their takeaway sections. Smaller players have been popping up on store shelves as well.

During the period, however, Campbell said sales for its U.S. Soup business rose 14 percent from a year ago. Its Chunky soups and new items such as its Campbell's Go soups that come in pouches helped contribute to the increase.

In addition to stabilizing its soup business, CEO Denise Morrison recently moved to diversify the company's portfolio with the acquisition of Bolthouse Farms, which makes premium juices, salad dressings and bagged carrots. That acquisition also contributed significantly to the increase in sales during the period.

For the quarter, the company said it earned $181 million, or 57 cents per share. That's up from $177 million, or 55 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 15 percent to $2.09 billion.

Not including one-time restructuring charges, it earned 62 cents per share.

Analysts on average expected a profit of 56 cents per share on revenue of $2.04 billion, according to FactSet.

The company now expects sales to grow at the high end of its 10 to 12 percent range. Adjusted earnings per share are expected to exceed the previous range of 3 percent to 5 percent.

Shares of Campbell Soup Co. rose 2 percent to $48.69.