ConAgra Foods today (28 June) said that its profits for the fourth quarter rose by almost 7%, boosted by gains from the sale of its ham and seafood businesses which helped to off-set flat sales.


The Omaha-based maker of the Butterball turkey and Chef Boyardee brands said that its income increased to US$109m, or $0.21 a share, including $0.11 per share of net expense from items that impact comparability. Excluding the $0.11 per share of net expense from items that impact comparability, fourth-quarter diluted EPS was $0.32, up from $102m, or $0.20 cents a share, reported for the fourth quarter of last year.


The latest results included a 12% share gain from discontinued operations, including the sale of its ham and seafood business during the fourth quarter.


The company said that sales at its consumer foods segment, which accounts for 57% of annual sales, totalled $1.6bn – roughly equal to the total for the comparable period of last year as price increases off-set a 2% decline on volume. Segment operating profit was $188 million for the quarter, 2% ahead of $184 million reported last year.


Sales at the food and ingredients segment, which accounts for 28% of annual sales, totalled $823m, 6% ahead of last year, reflecting improved volume, pricing and increased flour selling prices driven by higher input costs. Operating profit was $93m for the quarter, 22% ahead of $77m reported last year, reflecting the strength of the potato and dehydrated products operations.


At the company’s international food operations, 5% of annual sales, sales remained flat at $156m, but operating profit increased by 14% on last year to $23m for the quarter. Results for Canada and Mexico, the largest of the company’s international markets, showed year-over-year profit declines. However, ConAgra reported, the company made progress in Asian and Caribbean markets.