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Flowers Profit Nearly Doubles

The stock ends lower as the forecast disappoints investors.

Flowers Foods

(FLO) - Get Flowers Foods, Inc. Report

sold off Thursday despite the company's third-quarter profit growth and guidance that was mostly in line with estimates.

Net income for the third quarter climbed to $22.6 million, or 37 cents a share, from $11.8 million, or 19 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Earnings from continuing operations rose to $17.1 million, or 28 cents a chare, from $13.5 million, or 22 cents a share, last year.

Sales for the Thomasville, Ga.-based bakery foods producer totaled $444.1 million for the quarter ended Oct. 7, an 8% increase from the same period the previous year. Analysts anticipated earnings of 29 cents a share on revenue of $449.6 million, according to Thomson First Call.

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"Good results for the quarter were achieved in the face of higher ingredient and energy costs," said George Deese, Flowers Foods' chairman, president and chief executive, in a statement. "Price increases were in place by the last week of the third quarter and should help offset the higher costs we will experience in the fourth quarter and the new year."

Flowers Foods now expects sales of $1.89 billion to roughly $1.9 billion for 2006. Continuing operations profits, before an accounting change, should be $1.16 to $1.20 a share. The company's previous guidance for this year was revenue of $1.88 billion to around $1.9 billion and adjusted earnings of $1.11 to $1.19.

Looking to next year, Flowers Foods believes sales will be $1.98 billion to $2.05 billion with earnings of $1.33 to $1.43 a share.

On average, analysts are calling for earnings of $1.20 a share and sales of $1.89 billion this year and a profit of $1.37 with revenue of $2.05 billion in 2007.

Shares of Flowers Foods closed down 94 cents, or 3.5%, at $25.76.