US cereals behemoth General Mills recorded sales up 82% to US3.1bn for its fiscal Q3, ended 24 February 2002, which the company explained reflected incremental revenues from the worldwide Pillsbury businesses, acquired on 31 October 2001. Earnings before interest and taxes, excluding unusual items, meanwhile totalled US$298.3m, essentially flat year on year. Interest expense of US$146.8m was up significantly from US$55.4m in the prior period, due to increased debt levels associated with the Pillsbury acquisition. As a result, earnings after tax, excluding unusual items, declined by 33% to US$106.9m. Average diluted shares outstanding increased 29%, to 378 million, reflecting the 79 million shares issued as part of the Pillsbury purchase. Diluted earnings per share before unusual items totalled 28 cents, down 48%.