In a letter to shareholders issued yesterday (24 April) Heinz reaffirmed the guidance it had previously published for FY 2006, emphasising its determination to return value to shareholders and summarising the company’s progress in implementing its strategic plan.

The company restated its pro-forma EPS guidance for fiscal 2006 of between US$2.10 and $2.16 per share.

Heinz said that it expects sales growth of between 3% and 4% in the 2007 financial year, operating income and EPS growth at the upper end of a 6% to 8% range and operating free cash flow of $800m to $900m.

“Following a successful transformation restructuring process, Heinz has established a solid new foundation for growth with leading brands in established and select developing geographies,” said chairman, president and CEO William Johnson. “It is important that we communicate to shareholders the scope of the important change that has been achieved, and the capabilities we have built and are refining to drive increased shareholder value in fiscal 2007 and beyond.”

This shareholder reassurance follows rumours of activist investors pressuring the management of Heinz to return more value to shareholders. Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz has given notice that, through Trian Partners Master Fund, he intends to seek the nomination of five people to Heinz’s 12-member board of directors.