CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) ¿ Snack foods maker Lance Inc. said Friday that its profit rose in the third quarter, helped by higher net selling prices and an acquisition. But the company lowered its full-year earnings guidance and narrowed its sales forecast, citing current operating conditions. Lance's products are sold under its namesake as well as Cape Cod, Tom's, Archway and Stella D'oro brand names along with a number of private label and third party brands. Profit grew 29 percent to $8.8 million, or 27 cents per share, compared with $6.8 million, or 21 cents per share, a year earlier. For the period ended Sept. 26, sales climbed 4 percent to $234.9 million from $225.6 million. Lance said increased net selling prices contributed 2 percent to sales growth, with the rest from increased volume that was helped by its $30 million Archway Cookies LLC acquisition in December 2008. The results missed the forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who predicted a profit of 37 cents per share on revenue of $242.1 million. Analysts' estimates usually exclude one-time items.
Private brands product sales rose 12 percent in the quarter on higher selling prices and volume growth from new products. While total sales improved, Lance expressed concern that sales to convenience store, food service and "small up-and-down-the-street customers" fell, as those sales comprise more than one-quarter of its total branded sales results. The company reduced its 2009 profit outlook to a range of $1.15 to $1.20 per share from a range of $1.15 to $1.25 per share. Lance said its guidance accounts for increased fourth-quarter margins prompted by lower-than-expected commodity costs, lower advertising spending and fewer expenses. The snack foods maker now expects annual sales in a range of $915 million to $925 million. Its prior forecast was for sales of $910 million to $930 million. Analysts predict full-year earnings of $1.23 per share on sales of $923.2 million.