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Food maker

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Free Report

said Wednesday fiscal first-quarter earnings fell to $279 million, or 79 cents a share, after taking into account a mark-to-market valuation of 17 cents a share from certain commodity positions, as sales rose 14% to $3.5 billion.

The company reported year-earlier earnings of $288.9 million, or 81 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters estimated earnings of 87 cents a share in the latest first quarter.

The maker of Cheerios cereal, Betty Crocker cake mixes and Yoplait yogurts said fiscal 2009 sales are expected to grow at a mid single-digit rate, driven primarily by price and mix.

Excluding a gain on the sale of its Pop Secret microwave popcorn business, and assuming no mark-to-market impact, the company updated its fiscal 2009 earnings guidance to a range of $3.81 to $3.85 a share, up from its previous forecast of $3.78 to $3.83 a share.