The company expects its next fiscal-year earnings to increase to about $2.46 to $2.48 a share, compared with the average analyst estimate of $2.50 a share, representing a growth of 7% to 8% from 2010 excluding certain items. General Mills mentioned that its noncash pension and post-retirement expense will be higher in 2011 and net sales are expected to grow at a low single-digit rate.
In the fourth quarter, General Mills' net earnings declined 41% to $212 million, which included a $35 million tax charge and a $25 million after-tax expense associated with a recent debt repurchase. Excluding these items affecting comparability, the company's fourth-quarter earnings totaled 41 cents a share compared with 43 cents a share a year ago.
Net sales for the fourth quarter totaled $3.6 billion, 2% below prior-year results, which included an extra week; U.S. retail net sales were 2% below last year's results; international net sales grew by 4%. Foreign currency translation added 1 point of sales growth.
Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 41 cents a share on revenue of $3.55 billion.
On Tuesday, General Mills was sued by a New York woman who accuses the company of allegedly misleading consumers about the health and nutritional benefits of its Fruit Roll-Ups and other fruit snacks enjoyed by children. The complaint was filed with a Manhattan federal court.
Shares of General Mills have fallen 2.7% to $35.90 in after hours trading.
-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York
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