H.J. Heinz Co.'s fiscal first-quarter net income jumped 13 percent as the foodmaker's business boomed in growing overseas markets such as India, China and Russia.
Heinz, best known for its signature ketchup, reported before the market opened Wednesday that it earned $240.4 million, or 75 cents per share, for the quarter that ended in late July. That's up from $212.6 million, or 67 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.
Heinz's revenue rose 1.6 percent to $2.48 billion.
The earnings beat analyst expectations of 73 cents per share but fell short of revenue expectations of $2.53 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.
Heinz CEO William R. Johnson said emerging markets were the most powerful growth engine for Heinz, accounting for almost 18 percent of its total sales. Sales growth was propelled by products like nutritional beverages in India, infant formula in China and strong ketchup growth in Russia.
Worldwide, volume rose 2.5 percent and price increases helped boost sales by 1.1 percent.
In the company's Asia/Pacific region, sales rose 19 percent to $558 million, while volume climbed almost 7 percent. In North America, revenue rose 4.8 percent to $762 million while volume climbed 5.3 percent as consumers bought more ketchup, pasta sauces and frozen entrees.
Elsewhere, though, the news was less rosy. Sales slid in Europe and other areas of the globe, as well as in the company's U.S. food-service division. But the company said when U.S. economy improves, the company believes its food-service business will start growing again.
"We're off to a really good start in a very difficult environment," Johnson said.
He said the company's business fundamentals are healthy and that it is focused on the efforts that will deliver high profitability and strong cash flow, such as new products in key markets.
Heinz again backed its full-year outlook and while it did not detail quarterly guidance, said it expects its second-quarter profit to mirror the first quarter, followed by slightly higher earnings in the third and fourth quarters.
The market reaction was limited as Heinz had already given an early glimpse at its performance Tuesday at its annual meeting.
Shares of Heinz, which is based in Pittsburgh, fell 11 cents to $46.13 in midmorning trading.
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