US food group ConAgra Foods has posted higher second-quarter earnings, helped by operational improvements.

The company posted earnings of $270.1m, or 51 cents per diluted share, for the second quarter to 23 November, compared with $235.8m, or 44 cents a share, a year earlier.

Sales were $3.9bn, down 13% year-on-year, while operating profit slid 1% to $500.5m, reported Reuters.

The lower sales and operating profit reflect the strategic divestiture of non-core businesses during the prior fiscal year, the company said.

Comparable sales and operating profit at the company's packaged foods unit increased over the prior year period, while operating profit in its food ingredients business also increased, reflecting better performance from several businesses.

During the quarter the company began implementing operational efficiency initiatives that will span the next several quarters, ConAgra said.