Kellogg Raises Earnings Forecast for Year

Monday, October 25th 2004, 9:39 am
By: News On 6

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) _ Cereal and snack maker Kellogg Co. increased its earnings forecast for the rest of the year Monday, citing strong growth in its third-quarter sales and profits.

For the three months ending Sept. 25, the company earned $247 million, or 59 cents per share _ 4 cents per share higher than the consensus forecast of 55 cents per share by analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

A year ago, the company earned $231.3 million or 56 cents per share.

Third-quarter sales increased 7.2 percent to $2.45 billion from $2.28 billion in 2003.

Kellogg raised its forecast for full-year 2004 earnings per share to a range of $2.11 to $2.13 per share, up from its previous range of $2.07 to $2.11. Analysts were already forecasting full-year earnings of $2.13.

In trading Monday morning, Kellogg shares were up 79 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $43.20 on the New York Stock Exchange _ near the high end of their 52-week range of $32.60 to $43.41.

``We are very pleased with our strong results in the third quarter and the first nine months of the year,'' Carlos Gutierrez, Kellogg's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. ``We are especially pleased that we could generate strong sales and earnings growth while continuing to make significant investments in our business.

``It is this investment, and our business momentum, that helps to provide visibility for the remainder of the year and into 2005.''

For the first nine months of 2004, the Battle Creek-based company had profits of $704.2 million, or $1.69 per share, compared with $599.1 million, or $1.46 per share, during the same period last year. Sales rose 8.2 percent to $7.22 billion, up from $6.68 billion.

Kellogg, which has 25,000 employees worldwide, had 2003 sales of nearly $9 billion. Its brands include Rice Krispies, Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes cereals and Keebler cookies and crackers, Pop-Tarts toaster pastries and Eggo frozen waffles.