Sara Lee Narrows Loss, Lowers Outlook

Sara Lee narrows its loss in the fourth quarter by focusing on lower-priced products.
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Sara Lee


narrowed its loss in the fourth-quarter, as it shifted its focus to lower-priced products.

The maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and other food recorded a loss of $14 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with a loss of $672 million, or 95 cents, in the year-ago period.

Excluding impairment charges of $207 million and its Spanish bakery business and $61 million in other charges, earnings were 29 cents a share. Analysts expected the company to earn 24 cents.

Revenue slipped 10% to $3.16 billion from $3.51 billion.

Sara Lee originally benefited from consumers dining in, but now shoppers are looking for cheaper private label brands. The company is trying to keep up with these changing demands by shifting its focus to popular lower-priced items like Ball Park franks and other inexpensive meats. Sara Lee started to reap the benefits from this shift, as its North American retail food business saw a 2% jump in sales to $695 million during the quarter.

Looking ahead, the company expects adjusted fiscal 2010 earnings between 84 and 90 cents a share, below analysts' forecast of 92 cents.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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