US food company J M Smucker has reported a 12% rise in quarterly net income, driven by higher sales, particularly in the higher margin US retail segment.

The company posted net income of US$31.3m, or 62 cents per share, for the third quarter to 31 January, compared to $28.0m, or 56 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Sales were $355.3m for the third quarter, up 4% compared to $340.8m in the year-ago period. The company said favourable exchange rates contributed approximately $5.2m of the increase in sales for the quarter. The company’s Jif and Crisco brands contributed $175.8m to sales in the third quarter, up nearly 5% compared to $167.6m a year earlier.

J M Smucker said the sales improvement, particularly in the higher margin US retail segment, and lower net interest, contributed to the increase in earnings.

Based on results to date and the outlook for the fourth quarter, the company said it expects to slightly exceed its previously announced earnings range of $109m to $111m, or $2.17 to $2.22 per share, for fiscal year 2004.

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