US branded and private label food producer Del Monte Foods has reported a slight rise in quarterly earnings, as increased volume and pricing was offset by increased inflationary and other costs.

The company reported net income of US$41.6m, or 20 cents per share, for the second quarter to 31 October, compared to $40.2m, or 19 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Net sales increased 6.9% from the prior year period to $846.6m. The increase in sales was driven by new product introductions, increased pricing, and higher volumes from increased marketing support and successful merchandising.

"Our second quarter results reflect successful performance in the marketplace although costs were negatively impacted by inflationary pressures," said Richard Wolford, chairman, president and CEO.

"In the second half, we plan to continue to invest in our brands and new product initiatives. We believe that the success of these actions, along with our strong second quarter growth and the pricing actions we have already taken, will result in higher than originally expected fiscal 2005 revenue growth. However, higher than anticipated energy and logistics costs will put pressure on our bottom-line," Wolford added.

The company now expects fiscal 2005 sales growth of approximately 2% to 3% over fiscal 2004 net sales of $3.13bn and earnings per share from continuing operations of 76 to 81 cents, including integration expense of approximately 6 cents per share. The company previously said it expected fiscal 2005 sales growth of 1% to 2% over fiscal 2004 and earnings per share from continuing operations of approximately 81 to 86 cents.