Before I move on to our important reminders, I'd like to invite all of you to join our webcast next week. It's February 22, Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, when we're presenting at the CAGNY 2012 conference in Boca Raton. As usual, we've created slides to accompany our earnings presentation. You'll find the slides posted on our website this morning at investor.campbellsoupcompany.com. Please keep in mind that this call is open to members of the media, who are participating in listen-only mode.As a reminder, our presentation today includes certain forward-looking statements that reflect the company's current expectations about future plans and performance. These forward-looking statements rely on a number of assumptions and estimates, which could be inaccurate and which inherently are subject to risks. Please refer to the slides in our presentation or the company's most recent Form 10-K and any subsequent SEC filings for a list of the factors that could cause our actual results to vary materially from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements. Since our presentation includes non-GAAP measures as defined by SEC rules, we've provided a reconciliation of the measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures as an appendix to the slides accompanying our presentation. These slides, as well as our earnings release and selected quarterly financial data, can be found on our website. And with that, let me turn the call over to Denise. Denise M. Morrison Good morning. Thanks for joining Campbell's second quarter earnings call. Six months into our strategic transition, we are focused on building a different company at Campbell. As we said last July, implementing our new strategic direction will require substantial investment. We're confident that the course we've charted will position Campbell for future success. This morning, I'll provide my perspective on our segment performance and our progress. Our U.S. Simple Meals and North America Foodservice businesses are tracking favorably, and we expect improved performance in Australia and U.S. Beverages. We are slightly behind our expectations on net sales but projecting to be within our guidance for full year 2012.
As a reminder, Campbell's primary goal is to create value by driving sustainable, profitable net sales growth. We continue to make progress executing our growth strategies and our focus remains on the consumer. Our 3 growth strategies are: stabilize and then profitably grow North America Soup and Simple Meals, expand our international presence and continue to drive growth in healthy beverages and bake snacks.As we told you last July, in fiscal 2012, we are increasing our investment in brand building and innovation for the long-term growth of our business. Overall, to enhance our brand-building efforts, this quarter we increased advertising and consumer promotion expense by 6%, with gains across all of our portfolio. You will continue to see increased advertising and consumer promotion in the back half of this year. Our innovation investments are also progressing, and I look forward to sharing some of the early results with you at CAGNY next week. Within the U.S. grocery trade, this past quarter, dollar consumption softened dramatically, particularly in the last 4 weeks of the quarter. For total Simple Meals, this softer consumption occurred across almost all categories, with 32 center store categories experiencing declining trends for the 4-week period versus full year-to-date. Our hypothesis is that continued pressure on the consumer in the current economic environment increased after holiday spending cycles, and the resulting decrease in personal disposable income has forced consumers to reduce discretionary spending, including food. Overall, consumer outlay for total food and beverage was up only 1% in the 12-week period, and the average number of units per trip declined 3%. Against this backdrop, I'll offer a brief perspective on our second quarter results. Our second quarter performance was broadly in line with our expectations. However, sales of $2.1 billion were slightly lower than what we anticipated. As expected, our adjusted EBIT and EPS were down due to the marketing investments we're making, inflation and a higher tax rate. Now let me offer some perspective on some of our segment results. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com