US food giant HJ Heinz has reported lower quarterly net income, after it sold off several brands to Del Monte Foods.

The company posted net income of US$194.8m, or 55 cents per share, for the first quarter to 28 July 2004, compared to $214.0m, or 60 cents per share, for the year-ago quarter. Sales rose to $2.0bn from $1.9bn a year earlier.

Heinz said results from the first quarter of last year included profit associated with business units spun off to Del Monte Foods. Excluding discontinued operations and special items, Heinz's first quarter EPS in fiscal 2005 increased 7.8% over earnings of $179.8m, or 51 cents per share for the prior-year period.

"Heinz is off to a strong start in fiscal 2005, with first quarter results consistent with our full-year outlook," said chairman, president and CEO and William Johnson.

"Innovation continues to drive profitable growth in our top brands," Johnson said, adding that Ore-Ida frozen potatoes performed particularly well, helped by the launch of new Extra Crispy and Easy Fries lines.

"This, combined with restaging and repricing initiatives around the world, helped generate strong first quarter sales and volume growth against our full-year objective of net sales growth of 2-3%," Johnson said.