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Campbell misses earnings expectations in Q3, as sales fall

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Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Co.: “This was a challenging quarter across the food industry.
Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Co.: “This was a challenging quarter across the food industry." - ()

Campbell Soup Co. reported earnings fell in its fiscal third quarter, missing Wall Street expectations in what its CEO called “a difficult environment.”

The Camden-based food products company said reported earnings came in at $298 million for Q3. That number was up 11 percent from the previous year. The per-share number of 58 cents, however, was down 2 percent from the prior year.

Adjusted earnings were $305 million, down 2 percent. The per-share figure of 59 cents was down 9 percent. That was also shy of the 64-cent figure estimated by analysts, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Reported net sales were $1.85 billion, down 1 percent from Q3 in fiscal 2016. Organic sales were also down 1 percent.

“While organic sales declined 1 percent in the quarter, the team performed well in a difficult environment, gaining market share in many of our categories and continuing to execute our cost-savings program,” CEO and President Denise Morrison said in a prepared statement. “This was a challenging quarter across the food industry, as top-line growth remained scarce, especially in center store categories. The industry, including Campbell, experienced significant consumption declines early in the calendar year. These industry trends coincided with weak consumer spending, which was at its lowest growth rate since 2009. While we rebounded with sales growth in March and April, we were unable to offset the earlier declines.”

Morrison defended the company’s performance, under the circumstances.

“In this context, Campbell delivered competitive performance,” she said. “A bright spot in the quarter was our global biscuits and snacks division, which delivered top-line and double-digit bottom-line growth.”

Morrison said the company was adjusting its guidance for the fiscal year, lowering its sales outlook by 1 percentage point, to -1 to 0 percent. She said the company would raise its earnings outlook, however, to 2 to 4 percent for adjusted earnings and 3 to 5 percent for adjusted EPS.

“Despite the challenges on the top line, we expect that we will be able to offset the impact of lower sales with our ongoing cost-savings efforts, which are ahead of our expectations for the fiscal year,” she said.

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