US snack maker Diamond Foods posted an increase in net income for the nine months to 30 April and raised its outlook for fiscal 2009.

The San Francisco-based company saw its net income for the period increase to US$19.5m, up from $12.1m in the comparable period of the previous year.

The figure was boosted by strong snack sales and Easter promotions.

Net sales also grew for the nine-month period, up 9% to $457.1m compared to $418.3 million for the prior year.

For the three months to 30 April, net sales increased 11%, led by 37% growth in retail sales, to reach $111m.

Net income increased to $2.7m from $1.1m in the comparable period of 2008.

“As our retail growth drives economies of scale and we continue to improve the company’s cost structure, it enables us to invest heavily in our brands and deliver greater value to our retail partners and consumers,” said president and CEO Michael Mendes. “As a result, we achieved strong sales and profit growth which exceeded expectations for the quarter.”

Fiscal year-to-date adjusted EBITDA grew 59% to $47.9m, which enabled the company to reduce debt outstanding by $80.4m since the end of the first fiscal quarter when it acquired Pop Secret.

The company upped its guidance and said it now expects a profit of $1.31 to $1.36 a share, excluding net non-recurring charges of about 3 cents a share. This compares to a previous forecast of $1.27 to $1.34 a share for the period.

It also upped its net sales guidance to $550m to $565m, from a prior estimate of $535m to $565m.