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General Mills Earnings to Top Prior Forecast

The maker of Cheerios said its fiscal 2009 earnings will exceed its prior guidance by a few cents.

General Mills

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said its preliminary fiscal 2009 earnings estimates exceed its prior guidance excluding items of $3.87 to $3.89 a share by several cents because of "good operating performance and a lower fourth-quarter tax rate."

The maker of Cheerios cereal and Pillsbury breads expects to report fourth-quarter and fiscal-year earnings on July 1.

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Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect General Mills to report fiscal 2009 earnings of $3.89 a share.

In a statement, General Mills said net sales at its U.S. retail business segment rose 10%, with pound volume increasing 4%. The company said the growth rate of its U.S. retail business is expected to moderate in 2010 from 2009 levels when "significant input cost inflation necessitated stronger pricing actions by food manufacturers."

The company said it anticipates 2010 input cost inflation will be "quite low," and that net sales growth will be "volume driven with little contribution from pricing."

General Mills said it was comfortable with analysts' estimates of fiscal 2010 earnings of $4.15 a share.