Sara Lee Beats Estimate by a Penny, but Sees Slowdown

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Sara Lee

(SLE)

has reported earnings of 43 cents a share for the second fiscal quarter, beating estimates by a penny, but fears that slow sales could decrease earnings in the third quarter.

The food and apparel company beat the 42-cent consensus estimate of 12 analysts carried by

First Call/Thomson Financial

. In the year-ago period, Sara Lee also earned 42 cents a share. Revenue for the quarter was up 2.6% to $4.76 billion from $4.63 billion a year ago, but operating income fell 1% to $609 million.

The Chicago company doesn't expect similar earnings next quarter, President and Chief Executive C. Steven McMillan indicated in a press release. "The soft retail environment has continued into January, and we expect this weakness to lower profits for our Intimates and Underwear operations, causing us to lower our earnings expectations for the third quarter."

In keeping with a restructuring plan, Sara Lee plans to sell eight divisions, including

Champion Europe

,

Sara Lee Apparel Australasia

and several international bakery operations.

Sara Lee projected third-quarter earnings of 26 cents to 29 cents a share, compared with 29 cents in the year-ago period. For the fiscal year, the company forecast earnings of $1.36 to $1.39 a share, up from $1.34 last year. Analysts expect the company to earn 31 cents in the third quarter and $1.39 for the year.

Investors were wary of Sara Lee in today's

New York Stock Exchange

session, as the shares lost $1.06, or 4.7%, to $21.75.