Heinz profit up; emerging markets sales rise

Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:12am EDT

(Reuters) - H.J. Heinz Co HNZ.N reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, the day after the ketchup maker said earnings would exceed Wall Street estimates, as it benefited from growth in emerging markets and improving results in the United States and Australia.

The company also cited higher prices and a favorable tax rate.

Heinz said net income was $258 million, or 80 cents per share, in the first quarter ended on July 29, up from $226.1 million, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier.

Profit from continuing operations was 87 cents a share. On that basis, analysts on average were expecting 81 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales declined 1.5 percent to $2.79 billion. Analysts were expecting $2.83 billion.

Heinz said it was on track to deliver its previously announced forecast for fiscal 2013, which called for earnings of $3.52 to $3.62 per share. The company still expects organic sales, which reflect volume and price increases, to be up 4 percent.

Heinz previewed its results during its annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday. Its shares rose to their highest level in more than 13 years.

Shares of Heinz were down 3.1 percent at $55.63 in trading before the market opened.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller and Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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