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Kraft Edges Past Estimates

The company backs its full-year view.
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Kraft Foods


, continuing to grapple with an ongoing plan to boost growth, narrowly topped analysts' first-quarter earnings estimates and backed its guidance for the year.

The maker of Nabisco crackers, Philadelphia cream cheese and Oscar Mayer meat posted first-quarter earnings of $702 million, or 43 cents a share, down from $1 billion, or 61 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding miscellaneous one-time items, earnings fell to $716 million, or 44 cents a share, from the comparable year-ago $756 million, or 45 cents a share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial predicted a profit of 42 cents a share.

Revenue rose 5.7% to $8.59 billion from $8.12 billion, helped by an acquisition and favorable currency exchange rates. Organic revenue climbed 3.6%, which Kraft said was led by the North America convenient meals and snacks and cereals segments.

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The company, which was spun off from

Altria Group

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at the end of the quarter, continues to expect full-year earnings of $1.50 to $1.55 a share. Excluding items, the company predicts a profit of $1.75 to $1.80 a share.

Analysts expect earnings of $1.79 a share, before items.

"While our first quarter results reflect improvement in several core categories, we still face many challenges," said CEO Irene Rosenfeld. "We expect to see further progress, particularly in the second half of the year, as we set the stage for Kraft's return to consistent growth."

In February, Kraft announced a plan to invigorate growth by reinvesting in its products, aiming to focus more on driving sales than profits.

Shares were adding 44 cents, or 1.4%, to $32.73 in after-hours trading.