Campbell Soup Co. reported Monday that its profit fell 54 percent in its fourth quarter, largely because of expenses related to the sale of its British business.
The world's biggest soupmaker said it earned $44 million, or 11 cents a share, in the three months ended July 30, down from $96 million, or 23 cents a share, a year ago.
Total sales for the quarter were $1.45 billion, up 3.6 percent from the last year's $1.4 billion.
Considering only continuing operations, profits were $84 million, or 21 cents per share. After adjusting for other one-time items, the company said it made 23 cents per share, up from $81 million, or 20 cents per share, a year ago.
The performance beat by a penny a share the forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. They expected earnings of 22 cents per share. But the revenue total was below the $1.55 billion that analysts expected.
Campbell said the decline in its net earnings reflected $61 million in costs asssociated with the British buiness sale which was completed in August.
Campbell also makes Pepperidge Farm cookies and crackers, Godiva chocolates and Prego pasta sauces, among other packaged foods.
For fiscal 2006, the company earned $766 million, or $1.85 per share, up from $707 million, or $1.71 per share. Sales in fiscal 2006 were $7.3 billion, up nearly 4 percent from $7.1 billion a year ago.
In the last few weeks, at least three analysts have downgraded the company's stock saying earnings will be diluted because last month's sale of the company's British businesses will cause earnings to be flat.
The rating agency Moody's Investors Services increased its rating outlook for the company from stable to positive because of that sale.
Its shares rose 27 cents to close at $37.45 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.