US snacks firm Snyder’s-Lance has reported an increase in first-half profits despite lower sales.

Earnings in the six months to the end of June amounted to US$33.8m from $7.3m in the prior-year period, the company reported today (7 August).

Net profit excluding special items, which include costs linked to the merger that formed the company, amounted to $26.4m in the first half of the year. A year earlier, net profit on this basis was $23m.

Operating profit amounted to $61.7m versus $16.6m in the prior-year period.

Lower selling, general and administrative costs boosted Snyder’s-Lance first-half profits. SG&A costs were almost $40m higher last year.

Sales, however, slid 1% to $792.2m, which the firm said was down to the impact of the independent business owner (IBO) route system conversion.

Snyder’s-Lance reaffirmed it full-year revenue guidance of “flat to 2% down” and an EPS increase of between 30% and 45% on 2011.

Click here for coverage of the company’s conference call with analysts, in which it outlined the challenges it faces with its private-label business.