(Reuters) - Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co HNZ.N said first-quarter earnings rose more than expected, helped by emerging market growth, improved productivity, higher margins and a favorable tax rate, sending its shares to their highest level in more than 13 years.
Heinz, which also sells Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, said in a preannouncement on Tuesday it plans to report earnings of 87 cents per share on organic sales growth of almost 5 percent on Wednesday.
Analysts, on average, expected 80 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Speaking at Heinz’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive William Johnson said the company boosted earnings per share in the quarter “despite the headwinds of a still weak economy and adverse foreign currency trends that reduced EPS by around four cents.”
Johnson said the company was on track to deliver its previously announced forecast for fiscal 2013, which calls for earnings of $3.52 to $3.62 per share.
Heinz shares were up $1.72, or 3 percent, to $58.18 on the New York Stock Exchange. They earlier touched a high of $58.24, their highest level since February 1999.
Reporting By Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Jeffrey Benkoe