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Shares of General Mills jumped 3.5 percent Wednesday after the food company's earnings report showed that cost-cutting initiatives and price hikes have paid off for its profits.
"We had a strong third quarter, with positive organic sales growth and significant operating margin expansion," CEO Jeff Harmening said in a statement.
The company earned 83 cents per share, on an adjusted basis, during the fiscal third quarter, topping the 69 cents per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. General Mills also reported revenue in line with estimates of $4.20 billion.
Net income attributed to General Mills dropped to $446.8 million, or 74 cents per share, down 52.5 percent from $941.4 million, or $1.62 per share, a year earlier. The company reported a one-time tax benefit of $504 million due to U.S. tax reform during last year's third quarter.
The Minneapolis-based food giant boosted its top and bottom lines by raising prices and switching its products in all of its markets. It otherwise saw sales volume decline in North America, Europe and Australia. A broader cost-cutting plan announced last year, which includes cutting 625 jobs by this spring, also helped profits, it said.
With one quarter left in its fiscal 2019, General Mills raised its outlook for earnings growth to a range of flat to up 1 percent. It previously estimated a range of flat to down 3 percent due to accounting changes from its acquisition of pet food company Blue Buffalo. Analysts were expecting the earnings to decline by 1.2 percent.
Organic sales grew by 1 percent during the quarter, beating Wall Street estimates of 0.6 percent. Sales for its largest business, North American retail, were flat for the quarter, despite the food company's efforts to entice consumers through marketing and product innovation.
The company also narrowed its fiscal 2019 net sales and organic sales growth to the lower end of its previous outlook range. It now expects net sales growth to be closer to 9 percent than 10 percent and organic net sales growth closer to flat than 1 percent.