Food producer H.J. Heinz Co. said Tuesday its third-quarter profit held virtually steady compared with a year ago as sales growth fueled by increased marketing and higher prices offset the impact of a steeper tax rate.
The Pittsburgh-based ketchup maker reported earnings of $219 million (euro147.24 million), or 68 cents per share, for the three months ended in January. A year earlier, the company posted per-share earnings 66 cents.
Sales jumped 14 percent to $2.61 billion (euro1.75 billion) from $2.30 billion (euro1.55 billion) last year.
The results beat Wall Street estimates. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial, on average, were looking for profit of 67 cents per share on sales of $2.58 billion (euro1.73 billion).
The company remains on track to achieve record full-year sales and per-share growth of 9 percent to 10 percent for the fiscal year, William R. Johnson, Heinz's CEO, said in a statement.
Heinz said product innovation and a 16 percent increase in marketing spending drove its strong quarterly sales results. Favorable foreign exchange contributed to 5.3 percent of the growth.
The company had a tax rate of 31.6 percent during the quarter compared with a rate of 26 percent a year earlier. Heinz anticipates a full-year tax rate of about 31 percent for the fiscal year ending April 30.
"Consumers across the globe are embracing our leading brands and innovative new products," Johnson said.
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