NEW YORK (
is poised for continued strength in global organic growth due to its strong focus on fruits and vegetables processing, according to IBISWorld.
Heinz, like most of its food company peers, has a predicable growth profile. The food industry often moves slower and is sensitive to population income changes. But IBISWorld analyst George Van Horn has been very excited about its global fruit and vegetable processing business.
"That business has the fastest growth outlook for next five years," says Van Horn, in discussing fruit and vegetable products companies. More specifically, Van Horn predicts growth of 3% a year between now and 2014 for such companies, with the fastest growth occurring in the emerging markets. The figure exceeds global chocolate growth rates.
"They actually are in one of the best global food categories to be in in the next five years," Van Horn says.
, which produces foods in several categories, Heinz is concentrated on fruit and veggies -- a fact that Van Horn says should benefit the company in the coming years.
Heinz on Thursday published third-quarter earnings that fell from a year earlier, but still beat analysts' expectations, minus the sale of two frozen food businesses.
Heinz reported third-quarter net income of $229 million, or 72 cents per share versus $242 million, or 76 cents per share in the third quarter of fiscal 2009. Reported sales grew almost 13% to $2.68 billion. Meanwhile, the company reported earnings of 83 cents a share from continuing operations, while analysts had forecast earnings of 77 cents a share.
These one-time charges from the sale of the frozen food businesses may have been disappointing, but they won't be bothering the company's earnings anymore once their divestment has been finalized, Van Horn points out.
"The emphasis becomes, 'what's the rest of the business doing,'" Van Horn says.
Heinz says it's on track to deliver its recently increased full-year earnings per share outlook of $2.82 to $2.85 from continuing operations compared with the consensus forecast of $2.85. Much of this growth will continue to be driven by the emerging markets.
For example, "infant feeding is very good in the emerging markets, where population growth rates are higher," Van Horn says.
Nevertheless, Heinz will continue to actively promote products in mature regions like the U.S. and Europe. Van Horn notes that Heinz is increasing its marketing investments more aggressively than competitors at this juncture of the business cycle.
On Thursday, Heinz said it saw strong volume growth of 4.3% in U.S. retail and 9.1% in the U.K. as the company increased its third-quarter marketing investments by 41% to drive volume growth and strengthen brand equity. Also, Heinz saw organic sales growth of 15.5% in emerging markets, led by higher sales in Indonesia, Russia and India.
Overall, Heinz saw its 19th consecutive quarter of organic sales growth during the third quarter at 3%. This is better than Kraft and
, according to Van Horn.
-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York
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