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ConAgra Stands by 2009 Profit Forecast

ConAgra Foods stood by its forecast for 2009 earnings, which exceeds analysts expectations, and also said it plans to overhaul its frozen foods products as it tries to improve its consumer foods business.

The maker of Banquet frozen dinners, Peter Pan peanut butter and a host of other name-brand foods also said on Tuesday it still expects more earnings in the fiscal fourth quarter, which ends in May, than in the third quarter.

ConAgra has been trying to turn around its consumer foods business for several years.

It said in December that it would show improvement in the consumer foods business, which accounts for about 62 percent of its sales, in the second half of this fiscal year.

But analysts have questioned whether ConAgra, which has a portfolio that includes some second-tier brands, will be able to entice consumers who might turn to private-label brands in the recession.

The company also said on Tuesday that it expects to post earnings in 2010 that are be higher than 2009 but did not give a specific forecast.

It said moderating commodity costs and benefits from its food offerings would help boost consumer foods profits in 2010.