Ralcorp Holdings, the US private-label food manufacturer, has reported a jump in full-year earnings on the back of recent acquisitions, including the Post cereals business.

The company yesterday (12 November) booked full-year net earnings of US$167.8m for the 12 months to 30 September, up from $31.9m a year earlier.

Net sales were up by more than 26% to $2.82bn thanks to Ralcorp's purchase of Post from Kraft Foods and success in pushing through higher raw material costs as price increases.

Ralcorp, which holds a 19% stake in Vail Resorts, the mountain resort operator, said EBITDA from its food business climbed 14% to $275.7m thanks also to other acquisitions, including that of Bloomfield Bakery, which the company bought in March 2007.

Ralcorp said the Post deal had helped drive an increase in its earnings per share to the tune of $0.16. However, the company said diluted earnings per share, excluding one-off items and any profit contribution from Post, was up 5% for the year.

For the fourth quarter to 30 September, net earnings reached $41.1m against $12.2m a year earlier. Net sales were up 44% to $873.5m, thanks largely to the Post business and price increases but also to volume gains from its dressings, syrups, jellies and sauces unit.

Fourth-quarter food EBITDA, stood at $86.4m against $62.3m a year earlier.

Looking ahead to its fiscal 2009 year, Ralcorp said it was "confident in the growth prospects of its base businesses".

The company also had an upbeat forecast for the Post business. It predicted that the business unit would exceed the initial EBITDA forecast, with pro-forma, first twelve-month diluted earnings per share accretion at the low end of the original estimated range of $0.44-0.68 a share.