US food company J M Smucker has reported a 23% rise in first-quarter sales, boosted by the acquisition of Multifoods, which was completed midway through the first quarter of last year.

The company said sales were US$510.3m for the first quarter to 31 July, compared to $413.3m in the first quarter of 2005. The Multifoods businesses contributed $154.3m to sales in the first quarter of 2006, compared to $75.5m last year.

Income from continuing operations was $29.9m, an increase of 9% over $27.5m in last year's first quarter. Sales growth was mostly offset by increased marketing costs in support of the brands, costs associated with establishing the company's new distribution network, an increase in net interest expense, and compensation expense related to the company's new restricted stock programme.

"Our Smucker's, Jif, Crisco, and Pillsbury brands continue to experience considerable momentum," said Tim Smucker, chairman and co-chief executive officer. "During the quarter, we made significant investments in new products and in support of the brands, along with our supply chain initiatives. Income from continuing operations grew 9% for the quarter, as the performance of the brands offset these investments. We are well-positioned for continuing top and bottom line growth."

"We are excited about the many new products we are introducing in the upcoming quarter and expect them to enhance our growth prospects," added Richard Smucker, president and co-chief executive officer. "With the solid sales growth, new products and significant marketing support, our brands are well-positioned for strong performance. We remain committed to our outlook for the year of growing our earnings per share by our long-term annualised growth rate of 8%."

Net income for the first quarter of 2006 was $29.9m, or $0.51 per diluted share. Last year's first quarter net income was $32.8m, or $0.60 per diluted share, including the operations of the Australian-based Henry Jones Foods business, the Brazilian operations, Smucker do Brasil, and the Multifoods' US foodservice and bakery products business, all of which were sold during last year.