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Lance Reaffirms

The Nip-Chee maker swings to a loss but hits targets.
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Cracker maker Lance (LNCE) beat first-quarter earnings by a penny Friday and reaffirmed full-year guidance.

The Charlotte, N.C., maker of Toast-Chee and Nip-Chee lost $765,000, or 3 cents a share, for the quarter ended April 1, reversing the year-ago profit of $3.3 million, or 11 cents a share. Excluding costs related to the acquisition of Tom's, latest-quarter earnings were a penny a share. Sales rose 28% from a year ago to $187 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a breakeven quarter on sales of $176 million.

Branded sales were up 31% and nonbranded sales were up 22%. The growth in branded sales was driven by incremental Tom's business as well as continued strength in the core product categories of sandwich crackers and kettle-cooked potato chips. The increase in nonbranded sales reflected incremental business provided by the Tom's acquisition as well as continued momentum in other core private-label products.

"I'm very pleased with the execution of our key initiatives in the first quarter," said CEO David V. Singer. "Integration of the Tom's acquisition is on track and meeting our expectations, and we continue to deliver solid revenue performance in our core branded and nonbranded categories."

Lance said it expects to make 65 cents to 70 cents a share for the year, after Tom's charges of 5 to 8 cents, on revenue of $750 million to $775 million. Those figures are in line with Wall Street estimates.