Gen. Mills Q1 Profit Beats Estimates, Sales Lag

The company reported strong first-quarter sales in its U.S. retail segment, including Big G cereals and Yoplait Yogurt.

Golden Valley-based General Mills, Inc., on Wednesday posted better-than-expected first-quarter earnings, but sales for the quarter fell short of expectations.

Net earnings for the quarter that ended August 29 totaled $472.1 million, or 70 cents per share, up 12.2 percent from $420.6 million, or 62 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Excluding special items, the company earned 64 cents per share, beating the 63 cents per share that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected.

First-quarter sales increased 1.5 percent to $3.53 billion but missed analysts' estimates of $3.57 billion.

First-quarter net sales for the company's U.S. retail segment increased 2 percent to $2.45 billion. Segment operating profit totaled $615 million, a 3 percent decrease from last year due to increased input costs and advertising expenses.

Within the U.S. retail segment, Big G cereal sales grew 4 percent and sales of Yoplait Yogurt also increased 4 percent. Earlier this month, General Mills announced that it would fight to keep licensing the Yoplait trademark after French dairy company Sodima-which owns the Yoplait yogurt brand-said it wanted terminate an agreement with the company.

The company reaffirmed its full-year fiscal 2011 guidance of $2.46 to $2.48 per share-which would represent growth of 7 to 8 percent from the company's earnings per share of $2.30 in fiscal 2010.

Shares of the company's stock were up 3.6 percent to $36.96 in Wednesday afternoon trading.

General Mills is Minnesota's seventh-largest public company based on its fiscal-year 2009 revenue, which totaled $14.7 billion. The company reported $14.8 billion in revenue for its 2010 fiscal year.