Peanut butter and jelly maker J.M. Smucker ( SJM) posted an increase in fourth-quarter profits, helped by strong sales in its Jif and Crisco brands, and the results topped analysts' estimates.

The company also provided 2004 earnings and sales guidance that would be ahead of analysts' consensus projections.

In the quarter ended April 30, the company earned $23.2 million, or 46 cents a share, compared with $6.7 million, or 28 cents a share, in the 2002 quarter. Earnings included Jif and Crisco merger-related costs of $1.6 million and restructuring costs of $2.5 million. Earnings in last year's quarter included merger expenses of $4.1 million.

Excluding charges, the company earned 51 cents a share, compared with 39 cents a share in last year's period. Analysts were expecting the company to earn 47 cents a share in the latest fourth quarter.

Sales skyrocketed 87% to $329 million. The company's Jif and Crisco brands contributed $143 million to the quarter's sales. Smucker said total Jif sales grew about 13% during the quarter. Also, the Crisco brand had a successful spring holiday period, with consumer volume up 4% over last year. Sales in the U.S. retail market segment totaled $222.4 million, compared with $77.5 million last year.

Looking to 2004, excluding charges, the company expects to earn $113 million to $115 million, or $2.25 to $2.30 a share, on a 6% revenue increase, or about $1.4 billion.

Analysts expect $2.13 a share on sales of $1.31 billion. Shares of Orrville, Ohio-based Smucker were gaining nearly 4% to $41.01.

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