CONAGRA CUTS F2011 OUTLOOK

Published online: Dec 22, 2010 Potato Storage, Seed Potatoes
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ConAgra Foods Inc cut its 2011 earnings outlook for the second time after quarterly results were weaker than expected, underscoring the difficulties facing the U.S. food industry.

The maker of Chef Boyardee pastas, Healthy Choice meals and Hebrew National hot dogs blamed various factors, from commodity inflation and a poor potato crop to consumers not responding to its supermarket promotions meant to spur sales in a weak economy.

ConAgra said it expects to report earnings for its just-ended second quarter of about 45 cents per share, or lower than planned. Analysts on average were expecting 50 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company said it now expects a low-single-digit rise in earnings per share for fiscal 2011, down from its prior forecast for a 5 to 7 percent rise.

For the second half of the year, ConAgra expects operating profit to rise, due to price increases, acquisitions and other new products, better cost-savings and improved profits at its Lamb Weston unit due to a higher-quality potato crop.

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