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Campbell Soup Heats Up

Shares climb after the food company beats earnings targets and raises guidance.

Campbell Soup

(CPB) - Get Campbell Soup Company Report

beat Wall Street's second-quarter earnings forecast and raised its guidance for the full year.

Shares recently were up $1.56, or 4%, to $41.14.

For the period ended Jan. 28, the company's net income climbed to $285 million, or 74 cents a share, from $254 million, or 62 cents a share, a year earlier.

Adjusted for miscellaneous one-time items, earnings per share climbed to 68 cents from 60 cents in the year-earlier quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had an average estimate for earnings of 63 cents a share.

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Campbell's sales rose to $2.25 billion from $2.16 billion, slightly shy of analysts' forecast of $2.26 billion.

U.S. soup sales for the quarter declined 1%. Campbell's said soup sales were hurt by lower customer inventory builds compared with a year earlier. Sales of ready-to-serve soups slid 6%, while sales of condensed soups were flat for the quarter.

The lower soup sales were offset by strength in beverages, such as the V8 brand, and a 6% sales rise in the company's baking and snacking business, which includes Pepperidge Farm and Arnott's.

"We are especially pleased with the performance of our Pepperidge Farm, Arnott's, and U.S. beverage businesses in the first half," said President and CEO Douglas Conant. "Our strategic growth platforms of simple meals and baked snacks continue to gain momentum in the marketplace."

For the year, Campbell's now expects earnings from continuing operations to rise 10% to 12%, up from its prior forecast for 5% to 7% growth.

Based on the comparable fiscal 2006 profit of $1.73 a share, Campbell's forecast suggests fiscal 2007 earnings of $1.90 to $1.94 a share. Wall Street targets earnings of $1.89 a share.