US food giant ConAgra Foods has reported a fourth-quarter loss of US$86m after changes to the way its accounts for its pension costs.

The company said today (21 June) its new method of accounting for pensions hit its bottom line in the 13 weeks to 27 May.

However, it said underlying earnings increased and it also had positive things to say about its consumer food division, which has been under pressure in recent months.

Underlying operating profit from ConAgra’s consumer foods business, which accounts for 63% of sales, increased 7% thanks to recent M&A, higher prices and improved margins.

Nevertheless, it should be noted sales volumes from the unit again fell in the quarter, a subject CEO Gary Rodkin will likely discuss when the company holds its conference call with Wall Street analysts later today.

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