Conagra Earnings Jump

ConAgra Foods ( CAG) reported a 41% increase in its fourth-quarter profit as its retail food business surged.

The Omaha, Neb., company earned $212 million, or 40 cents a share, in the last three months of its fiscal year, ended May 30. Its earnings were $150 million, or 28 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Quarterly sales hit $4 billion, up from $3.6 billion the year before.

Quarterly charges included 3 cents a share for restructuring and 5 cents a share for setting up a legal reserve fund. The company also saw a gain of 2 cents a share from the sale of a minority interest, a benefit of 2 cents a share from lower taxes, 3 cents a share in income from discontinued operations and a benefit of 3 cents a share from an extra week of sales.

The company currently plans to continue its restructuring program in fiscal year 2005, which will result in similar charges of approximately 3 cents a share for the year.

Shares of the company were up 62 cents, or 2.3%, to $27.08 in Instinet pre-market trading.

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