Feb 14 (Reuters) - Campbell Soup Co, the world's largest soup maker, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by an increase in soup sales during the holiday quarter, sending shares up as much as 7 percent.
The company said a late Thanksgiving holiday last year pushed shipments to retailers into the second quarter.
Sales in the U.S. simple meals business, which includes soups and sauces such as Prego pasta sauce, rose 7 percent to $894 million in the quarter. Soup sales alone rose 5 percent.
The company said the eight new soups it launched last month is expected to boost its U.S. soup business this year.
Campbell has been facing stiff competition from private-label brands and smaller rivals, but has been trying to revive sales by launching new soup products and expanding into higher-growth product categories.
The company acquired baby foods maker Plum Organics last year. It also acquired Bolthouse Farms, which makes refrigerated juices and baby carrots in 2012.
Campbell's total sales rose 5.5 percent to $2.28 billion in the quarter ended Jan. 26.
The company's net profit attributable to the company rose to $325 million, or $1.03 per share in the second quarter, from $190 million, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned 76 cents per share from continuing operations.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of 73 cents per share on revenue of $2.27 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Campbell's shares were up 4 percent at $42.57 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. They touched a high of $43.70.