US food giant Kraft Foods has backed its 2003 earnings guidance but warned that its earnings could be hit next year by pension and stock options costs.

Kraft, which makes Philadelphia cream cheese and Oreo cookies, said it still expects increased pension costs and executive stock awards to hit this year’s profit by 9 cents a share, while pensions and restricted stock compensation could hit 2004 profit by up to 7 cents a share.

Kraft said it expects worldwide volume growth of around 3% in 2003, driven by new products, reported Reuters.

The company is aiming for 2003 earnings-per-share of between US$2.10 and $2.15, growth of between 4% and 6% compared to 2002.

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