H.J. Heinz Co posted a lower quarterly profit on Tuesday, hurt by sales declines in North America and Europe, but said it is optimistic about its sales momentum heading into the second half of its fiscal year and raised its full-year profit forecast.

The maker of ketchup, Smart Ones frozen entrees and Ore-Ida potatoes said it earned $231.4 million, or 73 cents a share, for the second quarter ended October 28, down from $276.7 million, or 87 cents per share, a year earlier. The previous year's results included a sizable gain from currency hedging.

Heinz earned 76 cents per share from continuing operations, down 10 cents per share from a year earlier.

Economic weakness in European markets has pressured Heinz, while competitors like Nestle SA have aggressively promoted in the frozen food market.

Sales rose 2.5 percent to $2.67 billion.

For 2010, Heinz now expects to earn $2.72 per share to $2.82 per share from continuing operations, up from a prior target of $2.60 to $2.70.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)