Source AP ©

Campbell Soup 1Q profit falls 7.2 percent

The Campbell Soup Co.’s first-quarter profit decreased 7.2 percent due to higher costs for ingredients and more expense on advertising.

The food company earned $270 million (EUR184.25 million), or 70 cents per share, for the three months ended Oct. 28, down from $291 million (EUR198.58 million), or 72 cents a share, a year ago.

Third-quarter sales were $2.3 billion (EUR1.57 billion), up 6.7 percent from $2.15 billion (EUR1.47 billion) a year ago.

Excluding year-ago results from operations that have since been sold or discontinued, the latest profit was up $1 million (EUR0.68 million) from $269 million (EUR183.57 million) a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial said they expected earnings of 71 cents per share. Those estimates typically exclude one-time items.

The company said its margins fell because it did not raise prices to keep up with rising ingredient costs.

Campbell also said it spent more on advertising in the quarter.

Campbell's President and CEO Douglas R. Conant said the company still expected sales growth between 3 and 4 percent for fiscal year 2008 and earnings per share for continuing operations to be up 5 percent to 7 percent for the year.

The 53rd week in the fiscal year will help, he said.

The heart of soup-eating season traditionally falls in the second and third quarters.

In addition to being the largest soupmaker, the Camden-based food conglomerate sells products including Pepperidge Farm cookies and crackers, V8 juices and Prego pasta sauce.

The company has been considering selling its Godiva Chocolatier business.

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