ConAgra Foods has said that its fourth-quarter earnings per share will be higher than its original estimates on the back of strong trading and merchandising profits.

In a statement, ConAgra said that diluted EPS for its fiscal 2008 fourth quarter will be higher than the company’s original estimate of $0.30 to $0.35, excluding items impacting comparability.

“The higher-than-planned EPS primarily reflects very strong trading and merchandising profits, which are now classified within discontinued operations. The company is also pleased with the overall performance of the food and ingredients segment, as well as improved execution with regard to pricing in the consumer foods segment,” ConAgra said.

The company will provide the specifics of the quarter’s results in the earnings release and conference call scheduled for Thursday.

Earlier this week, the company completed the sale of its commodity trading and merchandising operations, ConAgra Trade Group.

ConAgra Trade Group was sold to an investor group led by Ospraie Special Opportunities Fund. It will now operate as The Gavilon Group, LLC.