General Mills ( GIS) Background: General Mills is one of the leading producers of packaged consumer foods and markets its products primarily through its own sales organizations, supported by advertising and other promotional activities. Such products are primarily distributed directly to retail food chains, cooperatives, membership stores and wholesalers. The company was founded in 1928 and is based in Minneapolis, Minn. General Mills trades an average of 4 million shares per day with a marketcap of $25.5 billion. 52 Week Range: $36.75 to $41.06 Book Value: $9.90 Price to Book: 3.7 GIS is forecast to report slightly lower first-quarter earnings before the market opens on Sept. 19. The consensus estimate is currently 62 cents a share, falling 2 cents (3.1%) from 64 cents during the same period last year. The last date GIS released earnings was June 27 and the closing price was $37.55. Based on a recent price of $39.44, shares are up 5%. The company currently pays $1.32 per share in dividends for a yield of 3.36%. Examining the dividend history of a company is a great way to help understand what we may expect in the future. Of course, the past doesn't guarantee future dividends, but it does paint a useful picture. The three-year average amount they have distributed to shareholders per year is $1.10. General Mills has a strong history of raising the dividend level. Dividends have moved up 11.1% on average per year during the last five years. Shares are slowly but steadily climbing in the last 30 days. Shares are now 2.5% higher than last month. The last reported short interest is tiny at 1.9%. Over half the analysts covering General Mills rate it as a buy or strong buy. 11 of the 17 analysts covering the company give a buy recommendation. Six analysts rate it a hold, and none of the analysts recommend selling. The average analyst target price for GIS is $41.36. The trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio is 15.4, the mean fiscal year estimate price-to-earnings ratio is 14.8, based on earnings of $2.65 per share this year.