MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In conjunction with a presentation today at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) investor conference, General Mills (NYSE: GIS) reaffirmed its earnings guidance for the fiscal year ending May 26, 2013, of $2.65 to $2.67 per share, before certain items affecting comparability. The company also previewed its fiscal 2014 plans, which include stronger EPS growth and increased cash returns to shareholders.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ken Powell said, "We are completing a two-year period of significant investment that strengthened our business in our core U.S. market and meaningfully expanded our base in international markets. Our focus now is on integrating the new operations and executing well across the entire company. We see stronger growth in our immediate future. In December, we raised our earnings outlook for fiscal 2013. And in fiscal 2014, our plans call for high single-digit EPS growth, consistent with our long-term model."
General Mills' operating cash flow after capital investment has averaged more than $1.3 billion per year since 2008. Chief Financial Officer Don Mulligan said, "Our plans for fiscal 2014 call for returning greater levels of cash to shareholders through both increased share repurchase activity and dividend growth." Repurchase activity is expected to reduce the average number of diluted shares outstanding by 2 percent in fiscal 2014.General Mills said its U.S. Retail segment is expected to achieve low single-digit sales growth and stronger operating profit growth in fiscal 2013. Chief Operating Officer for U.S. Retail Ian Friendly said 2014 plans add up to another year of good growth. "We have a strong line-up of consumer-focused news and differential product innovation, including new yogurt items, new cereals, and comprehensive plans for other key categories including dinner mixes, baking products and snacks," he said. General Mills expects reported net sales from international operations to exceed $5 billion in fiscal 2013. Chief Operating Officer for International Chris O'Leary said, "We've made several acquisitions recently—most notably the international Yoplait yogurt business and Yoki Alimentos in Brazil. But growth from our base business has been the real story. Excluding acquisitions, international sales have been growing at a high single-digit compound rate over the past five years. In fiscal 2014, we expect our established businesses to record continued sales and profit growth, and we expect our new businesses to contribute sales growth and approximately 15 cents of operating earnings per share." A webcast of today's General Mills presentation at the CAGNY conference can be accessed live via the internet at: www.generalmills.com, beginning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The webcast will be archived on General Mills website through March 8, 2013. This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are based on our current expectations and assumptions. These forward-looking statements, including the statements made by management, are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the potential results discussed in the forward-looking statements. In particular, our predictions about future net sales, earnings, share repurchase activity and dividend growth could be affected by a variety of factors, including: competitive dynamics in the consumer foods industry and the markets for our products, including new product introductions, advertising activities, pricing actions, and promotional activities of our competitors; economic conditions, including changes in inflation rates, interest rates, tax rates, or the availability of capital; product development and innovation; consumer acceptance of new products and product improvements; consumer reaction to pricing actions and changes in promotion levels; acquisitions or dispositions of businesses or assets; changes in capital structure; changes in laws and regulations, including labeling and advertising regulations; impairments in the carrying value of goodwill, other intangible assets, or other long-lived assets, or changes in the useful lives of other intangible assets; changes in accounting standards and the impact of significant accounting estimates; product quality and safety issues, including recalls and product liability; changes in consumer demand for our products; effectiveness of advertising, marketing, and promotional programs; changes in consumer behavior, trends, and preferences, including weight loss trends; consumer perception of health-related issues, including obesity; consolidation in the retail environment; changes in purchasing and inventory levels of significant customers; fluctuations in the cost and availability of supply chain resources, including raw materials, packaging, and energy; disruptions or inefficiencies in the supply chain; volatility in the market value of derivatives used to manage price risk for certain commodities; benefit plan expenses due to changes in plan asset values and discount rates used to determine plan liabilities; failure of our information technology systems; foreign economic conditions, including currency rate fluctuations; and political unrest in foreign markets and economic uncertainty due to terrorism or war. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly revise any forward-looking statement to reflect any future events or circumstances.