) --

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

, the maker of such cherished food brands as Cheerios and Yoplait, said profit grew by 51% in its fiscal first quarter.

The company Wednesday said it earned $420.6 million, or $1.25 a share, in the period, up from $278.5 million, or 79 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter. After excluding certain items, the food concern said profit would have been $1.28 a share.

Sales in the quarter were $3.52 billion, compared with $3.50 billion last year. The slight growth was paced by a 6% jump in retail sales in the U.S. during the quarter.

According to Thomson Reuters, analysts surveyed expected General Mills to report earnings of $1.03 a share on $3.49 billion in revenue.

General Mills also raised its 2010 earnings outlook to a range of $4.40 to $4.45 a share. The company previously anticipated full-year earnings per share between $4.20 to $4.25.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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