Flowers Foods boss George Deese has insisted the US baker remains "strong" despite the economic downturn as the company reaffirmed its sales and earnings forecasts for 2008 and 2009.

Deese, chairman, CEO and president of Flowers, told analysts in New York yesterday (2 December) that the company would focus on "building future value" for its shareholders.

"Our business continues to be strong in spite of the economic slowdown," Deese said. "We remain focused on growing sales and on managing our costs better than ever. Our commitment to investing in our business will not waver because we must keep our products, our process, our information, and our people performing at peak efficiency."

CFO Steve Kinsey reiterated Flowers' guidance for fiscal years 2008 and 2009. The company said it expects sales to rise by 18.8-19.3% to US$2.42-2.43bn during the 53 weeks of its fiscal 2008 year.

Flowers has also forecast net income of $113.6-117.3m for 2008 and a 19.6-23.5% jump in earnings per share to $1.22-1.26.

Kinsey also repeated Flowers' guidance of a 12.2-14% rise in sales for the 52-week fiscal 2009 year to $2.72-2.77bn. Flowers also estimates that net income will reach $124.1-135.3m in 2009, as well as forecasting a 9-15.1% rise in earnings per share to $1.33-1.45.