Updated from 6:07 a.m. EDT

Fiscal fourth-quarter earnings at General Mills ( GIS), the maker of Cheerios cereal and Pillsbury bread and cake mixes, soared 94% as the company recorded a large mark-to-market valuation gain and the tax rate in the quarter was lower.

General Mills earned $358.8 million, of $1.07 a share, in the quarter, compared with $185.2 million, or 53 cents a share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, earnings were 86 cents a share vs. 73 cents in the year-earlier period.

Sales rose 5% to $3.65 billion. Foreign currency translation reduced sales growth by 3 percentage points, the company said.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected General Mills to earn 81 cents a share on revenue of $3.69 billion in the fourth quarter.

"Our product categories are on-trend with consumer needs, and we've got a good line-up of product news and innovation planned for the new year, so we expect our business to generate good growth again in fiscal 2010," said Chairman and CEO Ken Powell.

General Mills said earnings in fiscal 2010 are expected to be $4.20 to $4.25 a share assuming no mark-to-market impact. The company said earnings per share will continue to include mark-to-market valuation of commodity positions, but the company can't predict its effect on earnings.

Analysts expect fiscal 2010 earnings of $4.18 a share.

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