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JM Smucker beats profit estimates on boost from prices hikes

Source: JIF

J.M. Smucker's topped analysts' forecasts for second-quarter sales and profit, as it sold more pet food products and benefited from price hikes for Jif peanut butter and other consumer items.

Smucker's shares, which have fallen 17 percent this year, rose 4 percent in premarket trading on Thursday.

Net sales in its pet foods business, Smucker's biggest, rose 4 percent in the quarter ended Oct. 31, driven by demand for brands including Nature's Recipe and Meow Mix.

Sales in the business, which has faced intense competition from rival pet food makers, were "very strong" and the highest organically in years, said JPMorgan analyst Ken Goldman.

Smucker's bigger rivals including Mars, which sells Pedigree and Whiskas, and Nestle, whose main pet brand is Purina, have been spending heavily to build out their pet food divisions.

While sales in Smucker's consumer foods business fell 5 percent, price increases for Jif and the company's namesake brand helped drive profit about 10 percent higher.

However, earnings in its large coffee business declined 18 percent despite an increase in sales, bruised by rising costs to buy green coffee.

Smucker, the biggest U.S. coffee roaster, has found it difficult to raise prices for its coffee brands to keep up with rising green coffee prices.

The Orrville, Ohio-based company was forced to lower its coffee prices earlier this year after a prior price hike hit demand.

Smucker's net income rose 10 percent to $194.6 million in the second quarter. Excluding one-time items, the company earned $2.02 per share, beating analysts' average estimate of $1.90, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose slightly to $1.92 billion and topped analysts' expectations of $1.89 billion.

Smucker said it now expects yearly net sales to be flat or down slightly, compared with an earlier forecast for sales to fall.