CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-General Mills profit misses estimates as commodity costs rise

Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:23pm EDT

(Corrects paragraph 6 to say net sales fell 2.9 percent to $4.28 billion, not 2.8 percent to $4.41 billion)

June 25 (Reuters) - General Mills Inc, maker of Cheerios cereal and Betty Crocker baking products, reported a quarterly profit that fell short of market estimates largely due to higher commodity costs.

The company, whose shares fell 3 percent in premarket trading, said it would launch new products, revamp existing ones to revive sales and continue to cut costs.

General Mills said it has begun a review of its North American manufacturing and distribution network to streamline operations with the aim to save $40 million pretax for the year ending May 2015.

Sales in the company's U.S. branded goods retail business, the largest contributor to revenue, fell 1 percent to $2.4 billion.

The division, whose brands include Green Giant meals, Progresso soup and Pillsbury frozen foods, has been hurt by increased competition from cheaper store-branded foods in recent quarters.

The owner of Yoplait yoghurt said net sales fell 2.9 percent to $4.28 billion. Analysts had expected sales of $4.42 billion.

The company said it expected 2015 net sales to grow at mid single-digits and adjusted earnings per share to grow at high single digits.

Net income rose 10.4 percent to $404.6 million, or 65 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, from $366.3 million, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings were 67 cents per share, way below the average analyst estimate of 72 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

One-time items include a 6 cent per share gain on the sale of several grain elevators and a 9 cent per share charge associated with the Venezuelan currency devaluation, the company said.

The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company's shares closed at $53.70 on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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