US snack group Diamond Foods has raised the lower end of its full-year earnings outlook after booking higher sales and earnings in the first six months of the fiscal year.

In the first half, ended 31 January, Diamond said sales rose to US$476.3m, compared to $455.2m in the year ago period. Diamond said higher US snack and nut sales more than offset a jump in UK promotional activity in the six months. 

Margins were also up. Gross margin climbed to 25.3% from 25% and the company's operating profit benefited from a significant fall in SG&A costs. Operating profit rose to $40.6m, compared to a loss of $24.2m in 2013. Lower finance costs also bolstered the bottom line, with net profit increasing to $18.8m from a loss of $57.2m. 

Looking to the full year, Diamond lifted its EBITDA guidance to $117-123m, compared to its previous range of $115-123m.   

Diamond shares rose 3.81% in after hours trading following the announcement yesterday (6 March).