H. J. Heinz Co. Earnings Cheat Sheet: Margins Expand Again, Profit Rises

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component H. J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) reported its results for the fourth quarter. HJ Heinz Co. manufactures food products, including ketchup, condiments and sauces, frozen food, soups, beans and pasta meals, infant nutrition and other food products.

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H. J. Heinz Company Earnings Cheat Sheet for the Fourth Quarter

Results: Net income for the food company rose to $226.9 million (69 cents/share) vs. $192.4 million (60 cents/share) in the same quarter a year earlier. A rise of 17.9% from the year earlier quarter.

Revenue: Rose 6% to $2.89 billion YoY.

Actual vs. Wall St. Expectations: HNZ fell short of the mean analyst estimate of 72 cents/share. Estimates ranged from 69 cents per share to 73 cents per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $2.87 billion.

Quoting Management: Heinz Chairman, President and CEO William R. Johnson said: “Heinz delivered record sales, net income and cash flow in Fiscal 2011, fueled by accelerating growth in key Emerging Markets like China, India, Indonesia and Russia and value-enhancing innovation in our core portfolio of iconic brands. Through excellent execution of our long-term plan, Heinz enhanced its position as one of the best-performing global food companies while driving shareholder value and continued dividend growth.”

Key Stats:

Last quarter marked the fifth consecutive quarter of gross margins expanding as the company’s gross margin expanded one percentage point to 36.3% from the year earlier quarter. Over that span, margins have grown on average 0.9 percentage point per quarter on a year-over-year basis.

The company has now seen net income rise in three-straight quarters. In the third quarter, net income rose 19.8% and in the second quarter, the figure rose 8.6%.

The company fell short of forecasts after beating estimates in the previous two quarters. In third quarter, it topped the mark by 2 cents, and in second quarter, it was ahead by 2 cents.

The company’s revenue has now risen for two straight quarters. In third quarter, revenue increased 1.5% to $2.72 billion from the year earlier quarter.

Competitors to Watch: Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:RAH), Smart Balance, Inc. (NASDAQ:SMBL), TreeHouse Foods Inc. (NYSE:THS), The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAIN), Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB), ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG), Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE:KFT), General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS), Unilever plc (NYSE:UL), Kellogg (NYSE:K) and Unilever N.V. (NYSE:UN).

Stock Performance: Shares of HNZ are up over 1% this morning.

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(Sources: YahooFinance, Xignite Financials)