US food company Campbell Soup has reported net earnings for the fourth quarter to 31 July of US$96m, or 23 cents per share, versus $59m, or 14 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Last year's fourth quarter included a $6m after-tax gain from the sale of the idle California manufacturing site and a $22m after-tax restructuring charge. Net sales increased 5% to $1.50bn.

For the fiscal 2005 year, the company reported earnings of $707m, or $1.71 per share, compared to $647m, or $1.57 per share, for the previous year. Net sales increased 6% to $7.55bn.

"We have delivered a year of quality growth and exceeded our financial goals for sales, earnings before interest and taxes, and earnings per share," said Douglas Conant, Campbell's president and CEO.

"We continued to make important progress in our largest business, US Soup. We are especially pleased with the 8% rise in sales of condensed soup, by far the strongest performance in many years. In ready-to-serve soup, 'Campbell's Chunky' continued its strong performance. Although we were disappointed with the performance of 'Campbell's Select' soups, we have programmes in place to strengthen the performance of this business in the coming year. Our 'Swanson' broth business continued to deliver excellent results.

"In our Away From Home business, we achieved substantial growth in premium refrigerated soups, which are primarily sold through in-store delis. We are also pleased with the strong performance of our Baking and Snacking businesses, especially Pepperidge Farm. Godiva delivered an excellent year as we continue to strengthen the brand through innovation," Conant added.