From: Reuters
Published January 30, 2008 07:52 AM

CORRECTION: Kraft profit falls on dairy costs

Corrects third paragraph to say 100 million more shares outstanding

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Kraft Foods Inc <KFT.N> on Wednesday posted a lower quarterly profit as higher costs for dairy products and other ingredients offset an 11 percent sales increase.

The sales increase was a sign Kraft is having some success with new products and improved marketing. But the company still continues to battle higher costs for ingredients and energy.

The maker of foods ranging from Oreo cookies to Crystal Light drink mix said profit was $585 million, or 38 cents a share, in the fourth quarter compared with $624 million, or 38 cents a share, a year earlier when the company had roughly 100 million more shares outstanding.


Earnings were 44 cents a share excluding restructuring costs, matching the average analyst estimate compiled by Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose to $10.40 billion from $9.37 billion. Excluding divestitures and the benefit from the weaker dollar, "organic" revenue rose 6.2 percent, the company said.

The company has been making changes in its portfolio, purchasing Groupe Danone's <DANO.PA> global cookie business in November while separately agreeing to sell its Post Cereals business to Ralcorp Holdings Inc <RAH.N>.

Kraft has spent $2.1 billion since 2004 on a major restructuring program.

Kraft forecast 2008 earnings of at least $1.90 cents a share excluding restructuring items. Analysts on average forecast $1.95 a share, according to Reuters Estimates. It also forecast an increase of at least 4 percent in organic revenue, up from its previous forecast of 3 percent to 4 percent.

Kraft shares closed at $30.19 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock is down 13 percent in the past year, compared with a 7 percent decline for the Standard & Poor's packaged foods index <.15GSPFOOD>.

(Reporting by Brad Dorfman, editing by Mark Porter)

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