US food maker Campbell Soup has reported higher quarterly earnings, boosted by a strong performance by its ready-to-serve soups business.

The company posted net earnings of US$235m, or 57 cents per share for the second quarter to 1 February, compared to $231m, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net sales rose 9% to $2.1bn, as an increase in volume and mix, higher prices and currency effects offset increased promotional spending.

“We again delivered solid financial performance in the quarter. We are successfully executing our highest strategic priority of revitalising our US soup business. We continue to generate excellent growth in our ready-to-serve soups and we are encouraged by the improved performance of our condensed soups. Across the broader portfolio, we see many examples of strong marketplace performance, including V8 beverages and Pepperidge Farm in the US and Arnott’s in Australia,” said Douglas Conant, Campbell’s president and chief executive officer.

“Our strategy to drive improved top-line growth through investments in higher quality products and packaging, convenience, and integrated marketing is clearly paying off. Looking ahead, we will focus on continuing this top-line momentum, while improving our margin structure,” Conant added.

The company backed its earlier guidance of earnings per share of around $1.58 for fiscal 2004. In fiscal 2003, the company reported earnings per share of $1.52 before the cumulative effect of an accounting change. For the third quarter of 2004, the company expects earnings per share to be approximately 31 cents.