Cocoa Puffs and Häagen-Dazs Lift General Mills' Earnings

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What else are you going to stock your pantry and fridge with if not Gold Medal flour, Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Pillsbury dough and, of course, Haagen-Daaz ice cream?

General Mills GIS on Wednesday reported better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter sales and earnings amid a surge in at-home food demand driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, notably among its brands of both non-perishable and refrigerated foods.

The Minneapolis-based company posted earnings of $625.7 million, or $1.10 an adjusted share, vs. $570.2 million, or 94 cents a share, in the comparable year-earlier quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting per-share earnings of $1.06.

Sales rose 21% to $5.02 billion from $4.16 billion, slightly beating analysts’ forecasts of $5 billion in sales. 

General said stronger demand for the likes of baking goods, cereals, snacks and pastries “… accelerated net sales growth in the North America Retail segment,” though at-home demand was less pronounced in Europe and Australia.

General Millls

That was partially offset by a drop-off in demand in its pet segment, which started off the quarter on a strong note but partially unwound by the end of the quarter as demand for pet food and supplies tapered off, the company said.

General Mills in May raised its fourth-quarter guidance amid what it saw as an "unprecedented increase" in demand for food at home as consumers stocked up on supplies in response to the coronavirus outbreak and quarantine.

However, how the U.S. and global economies recover from the pandemic and how consumers’ stay-at-home vs. eating and dining-out habits shift “remains highly uncertain,” General Mills said, adding that it is not providing an outlook for fiscal 2021.

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