General Mills (NYSE: GIS) reported a 33% jump in earnings for the first quarter helped by lower costs and expenses as well as a lower effective tax rate and a decline in net interest expense. The results exceeded analysts’ expectations. However, the company reaffirmed its fiscal 2020 guidance, which fell short of the Street’s view.
Net income attributable to the company climbed by 33% to $521 million. Adjusted earnings increased by 13% on a constant currency basis to $0.79 per share, driven primarily by higher adjusted operating profit, lower net interest expense, a lower adjusted effective tax rate, and higher non-service benefit plan income.
Net sales declined by 2% to $4 billion. Organic net sales were down 1%, reflecting lower organic volume, partially offset by positive organic net price realization and mix across all operating segments.
Looking ahead into fiscal 2020, the company reaffirmed its organic net sales growth in the range of 1% to 2%. Reported net sales are now anticipated to rise by about 1 percentage point backed by a combination of currency translation, the impact of divestitures executed in fiscal 2019, and contributions from the 53rd week. Adjusted earnings are predicted to increase by 3% to 5% from the base of $3.22 earned in 2019.
For the first quarter, sales for the North America Retail segment remained essentially unchanged from the year-ago levels, as benefits from net price realization and mix offset lower contributions from volume. However, lower bakery flour volume and unfavorable index pricing hurt the Convenience Stores & Foodservice segment sales by 4%.
The volume growth and positive net price realization and mix drove the Pet segment sales higher by 7%. The segment achieved the benefit from the acquisition of Blue Buffalo Pet Products, the brand in the fast-growing wholesome natural pet food category in the US.
The company’s results were benefited by the global growth framework plan that includes driving innovation and improving marketing and in-store execution. Also, margin expansion, disciplined cash conversion, and cash returns contributed favorably for General Mills.
Internet expense for the first quarter declined by 11% due to a decline in the long-term debt to $11.62 billion as of August 25, 2019. In contrast, the company had $504.8 million of cash and cash equivalents as of August 25, 2019.