General Mills Grows Sales, Earnings in Fiscal 2009

Sales rose by 8%. Despite challenging economy, good growth anticipated in 2010.

General Mills reported net sales growth of 8% to $14.7 billion for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2009. Net earnings rose as well, growing 1% to $1.3 billion. Diluted earnings per share reached $3.80, an increase of 2%.

"In 2009, we held our margins in the face of sharply higher input costs, and we significantly increased the level of consumer marketing support for our brands," said Chairman and CEO Ken Powell in the companys earnings release. "These actions have positioned General Mills to achieve another year of good growth in fiscal 2010."

For the fourth quarter, which included 14 weeks, net sales grew 5% to $3.6 billion. Earnings after tax were $359 million, with diluted earnings per share of $1.07 compared with 53 cents in the previous fiscal years comparable quarter.

Looking ahead, Powell said he expects good growth in fiscal 2010. "Our plans assume that world economic conditions remain challenging, and that foreign currency translation and transaction effects will reduce our reported sales and earnings growth rates. However, we expect the rate of input cost inflation to moderate, and we believe savings from our holistic margin management initiatives will exceed cost increases," Powell stated.

Powell said that diluted earnings per share will continue to include mark-to-market valuation of commodity positions, although the company cant predict its effect on earnings. Assuming no mark-to-market impact in fiscal 2010, the company forecasts earnings in a range of $4.20 to $4.25 per share for the year.

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