US food giant Kraft Foods has reported fourth-quarter net income of US$931m, compared with $548m a year earlier.

North America’s largest food company said that on a comparable basis, which assumes that Kraft was a public company for all of 2001, earnings were $876m, or 51 cents a share, up from $798m, or 46 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 49 cents to 53 cents on a comparable basis, with an average of 52 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

Kraft’s revenue increased 3% to $7.83bn on a comparable basis. Worldwide shipments were up 4.3%, compared to a 3.3% increase in the third quarter and a 2.1% rise in the second quarter.

Kraft also warned that this years profit would be hit by higher benefit costs and executive stock awards. The company expects earnings of $2.10 to $2.15 a share, below analysts’ estimates, reported Reuters.