, a company whose stock has been beaten up because of its connection to
, reported sharply higher earnings Tuesday on 3% revenue growth. The comparison with last year was eased by layoff expenses in the year-ago quarter.
The food company's first-quarter net income rose to $848 million, or 49 cents a share, from $693 million, or 40 cents, a year earlier. Analysts had forecast 48 cents a share. Revenue rose to 3% to $7.36 billion. Volume from continuing operations rose 0.9% from a year ago, reflecting a shift in Easter's timing to the second quarter, customer inventory reductions, and the national strike in Venezuela. Kraft expects an acceleration in the second quarter, with first-half volume growth between 2%-3%, and full-year volume growth of around 3%.
The company said it was still comfortable with full-year earnings of $2.10-$2.15 a share, up 7%-10% from last year, and 10% growth in discretionary cash flow.
Kraft has been operating without access to commercial paper after ratings agencies expressed concern about Altria, its former parent that still controls its voting stock. The shares are at about $29 currently; they were as high as $38 in early January, before Philip Morris's litigation issues broke.