Kellogg Beats, Affirms Outlook

Cereal maker Kellogg ( K) posted an increase in second-quarter profit Monday, easily surpassing the Wall Street consensus, on a 6% increase in sales, and also reiterated its full-year 2004 outlook.

Kellogg earned $237.4 million, or 57 cents a share, compared to $203.9 million, or 50 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts were calling for 54 cents a share. Operating profit in the quarter rose 6% to $438 million.

Total sales were $2.39 billion, up from $2.25 billion last year. Excluding the benefit of the weaker dollar, sales rose 5%. Sales in the company's North American unit were up 5% at $1.57 billion, with cereal sales up 2% and snack sales up 7%.

The Battle Creek, Mich.-based company noted that it absorbed higher commodity and benefit costs in the quarter. The higher costs, however, were offset by the increase in sales and a better product mix, it said.

Looking to the full year, Kellogg expects to earn $2.07 to $2.11 a share, which includes costs of 14 cents to 16 cents a share, up 4 cents a share from a prior estimate, for capacity rationalizations and other expected cost savings.

Backing out the expected costs, the company's estimate is ahead of analysts' full-year consensus for $2.14 a share. Kellogg earned $1.92 a share in the prior year.

Shares of Kellogg were adding 23 cents to $40.64 in Monday premarket trading.

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