H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) today reported strong first-quarter results, with growth of 10.1% in earnings per share from continuing operations (excluding special charges a year ago). The results reflected double-digit sales growth in Emerging Markets, improved results in the U.S. and Australia, higher volume and pricing, improved productivity and a favorable tax rate.
“Heinz delivered strong results and our 29 th consecutive quarter of organic sales growth, despite the difficult economic environment, higher commodity costs and headwinds from foreign currency,” said Chairman, President and CEO William R. Johnson. “Heinz is off to a good start in Fiscal 2013, led by our trio of growth engines – Emerging Markets, Global Ketchup and our Top 15 Brands.”
In the fiscal quarter ended July 29, reported sales declined 1.5% to $2.79 billion, reflecting the unfavorable impact of 5.6% from foreign currency exchange rates. Net pricing increased 2.3%, led by Emerging Markets, as well as the U.K. and the U.S. Volume increased 2.5%, led by strong growth in Emerging Markets, as well as growth in Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. Divestitures reduced total sales by 0.6%, primarily reflecting the exit from the Boston Market ® license in the U.S. and the sale of a small soup business in Germany.Heinz delivered organic sales growth of 4.8%, led by Emerging Markets, which posted organic sales growth of 19.3% for the quarter (11.2% reported). Emerging Markets represented a record 26% of total Company sales. The Company's Top 15 Brands achieved organic sales growth of 5.9% (0.1% reported), led by Quero ®, Master ®, Golden Circle, ABC ®, Weight Watchers ® Smart Ones ®, Heinz ® and Ore-Ida ®. Global Ketchup delivered organic sales growth of 3.7% (1.2% decline on a reported basis), led by strong growth in Brazil, Russia and China. On a reported basis, gross profit grew 1.9% to $1 billion and gross margin increased 120 basis points to 35.9%. Excluding charges for productivity initiatives in Fiscal 2012, gross profit decreased 1.3%, largely due to a $55 million unfavorable impact from foreign exchange, and gross margin increased 10 basis points. The gross margin improvement was driven by higher pricing and productivity, which more than offset higher commodity costs.
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