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General Mills Raises Estimates on Virus-Related Sales Increase

General Mills raised its estimates after an "unprecedented increase" in demand for food at home during the pandemic.
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General Mills  (GIS) - Get General Mills Inc. Report raised its fourth-quarter financial expectations after the producer of Cheerios, Betty Crocker and Häagen-Dazs saw an "unprecedented increase" in demand for food at home as consumers stocked up on supplies in response to the coronavirus quarantine. 

Shares of the Minneapolis packaged-food company at last check edged up 0.4% to $60.

General Mills said it expected fourth-quarter organic net sales to increase by double digits compared from the prior year, led by strong growth in its North America retail and pet segments.

In addition, the company said it expected to exceed its previous full-year fiscal 2020 guidance ranges of 1% to 2% in organic net-sales growth. The FactSet consensus forecast is total sales of $17.36 billion.

General Mills said its Nielsen-measured U.S. retail sales jumped 45% and 32% in March and April, respectively, compared with the prior year.

"In March, the company experienced an unprecedented increase in consumer demand for food at home, particularly impacting its North America retail and Europe and Australia segments, as consumers stocked up in response to local shelter-in-place restrictions," General Mills said in a statement. 

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"While the magnitude of increased at-home food demand moderated in April, it remained significantly elevated compared to pre-covid-19 levels," the statement continued.

General Mills said it has seen a substantial decline in away-from-home food demand since the onset of the pandemic. These trends are expected to be a significant headwind for business results in the company's convenience stores and food-service segment.

Globally, at-home food represents about 85% of General Mills net sales and away-from-home food represents 15%.

To date, the company said, all its manufacturing and distribution facilities have continued to operate without significant disruption related to covid-19. 

General Mills said its outlook continued to assume its supply chain would operate with minimal disruption for the rest of fiscal 2020.

The company is scheduled to present at the BMO Global Farm to Market Conference on Wednesday.