In a presentation today at a consumer products industry conference in New York, US food company General Mills reaffirmed its fiscal 2003 guidance for diluted earnings per share of US$2.62 to $2.64 before unusual items.


Including estimated unusual items expense related to the October 2001 Pillsbury acquisition, General Mills 2003 diluted earnings are forecast to total approximately $2.42 to $2.44 per share.


Chairman and CEO Steve Sanger said, “With less than one quarter to go in our fiscal year, we’re on track to meet the sales and earnings goals we’ve outlined for 2003. We expect our US retail business to lead our growth in the final quarter, driven by Easter merchandising in April.”


With regard to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation of Dutch retailer Royal Ahold and its US Foodservice operation, Sanger said, “We have been contacted by the SEC as part of its investigation of Ahold, and we will be cooperating fully with their request for information.”


Referencing the recent bankruptcy filing made by food distributor Fleming, Sanger said, “We’re working actively with Fleming to ensure that we can continue to supply products.


“We are very confident that neither of these matters will impact our previously released financial statements or the 2003 earnings guidance we’ve reaffirmed today,” he added.


The company also reiterated its comfort with the First call consensus EPS estimate for 2004 of approximately $3.00 per share.