Monday, May 23, 2005

Mmm, mmm, good!

Campbell profit up on strong soup sales

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE:CPB - news) on Monday posted a 3 percent rise in quarterly profit, helped by improved sales of its well-known red-and-white-label condensed soup and a recent price increase.

Earnings topped Wall Street estimates, and shares of Campbell, the largest U.S. soup maker, rose more than 2 percent to a three-and-a-half-year high.

Cool weather in parts of the United States, new in-store shelving, and higher prices fueled a 4 percent increase in sales of Campbell's condensed soup during the spring period, when sales are typically slower due to warmer weather.

Sales of ready-to-serve soups, however, dropped 6 percent amid stiff competition from rival General Mills Inc.'s (NYSE:GIS - news) Progresso soups, lower promotional spending, and shipment declines aggravated by the higher prices.

Campbell posted a profit of $146 million, or 35 cents a share, in the fiscal third quarter ended May 1, compared with $142 million, or 34 cents a share, including a one-time gain a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had forecast 33 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Quarterly sales rose 4 percent to $1.7 billion, in part on strong demand for Pepperidge Farm cookies and breads as well as Campbell's upscale Godiva chocolates.

Pepperidge Farm cookies are darn expensive, but I swear to all that can be sworn to, you take bite of one of their oatmeal or choclate chip cookies (and I can't stand chocolate chip) and boy, it's smooth sailing from there as you frantically stuff your self with 8 cookies that cost you $6. Also with Godiva choclates, I know they're good, but Lord Almighty! $1.7 billion?? Someone needs to sit down with the nutrionist.

Let me go on record as saying that there should be a tax on chocolate. Any purchase that consists of 6 or more ounces of chocolate, especially non dark chocolate, should be have to pay a sin-tax of 1 cent per ounce. Hey, we do it with ciggarettes.


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