ConAgra Foods Inc reported quarterly earnings that beat Wall Street's expectations due to price increases, but said inflation would eat into the next quarter's profits.

The maker of Healthy Choice frozen meals and Slim Jim meat snacks said fiscal third-quarter earnings were $215.1 million, or 50 cents per share, compared with $228.7 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 46 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 4.1 percent to $3.15 billion.

The company forecast a dip in fiscal fourth-quarter profit compared with what it earned in the third quarter, partly as a result of accelerating inflation, but affirmed its growth target for fiscal 2011.

The fourth-quarter profit forecast would put earnings below the average analyst estimate of about 51 cents a share as compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In February, the company cut its longer-term earnings target due to the weak economy. Its new forecast calls for earnings growth in the range of 6 percent to 8 percent, down from a prior view of 8 percent to 10 percent.

(Reporting by Helen Chernikoff; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Maureen Bavdek)