UPDATE 2-Flowers Foods' Q1 profit beats Street, shares rise

jueves 22 de mayo de 2008 17:59 CEST

(Adds details, analyst's comments, share movement)

By Swagata Gupta

BANGALORE May 22 (Reuters) - Bakery company Flowers Foods Inc (FLO.N: Cotización) posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit as higher pricing helped offset a rise in input costs, and also raised its 2008 outlook, sending its shares up about 12 percent to a lifetime-high.

"The company had exceptional sales performance in their branded products and a strong cost control which led to a terrific first quarter," Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Mitchell Pinheiro said.

Branded retail sales were up 13.8 percent in the quarter ended April 19, driven by the company's Nature's Own breads and its regional white bread brands.

Selling, marketing, and administrative costs as a percent of sales were 37.2 percent compared to 39.0 percent a year ago, the company said.

"Our performance in the first quarter was strong in the face of cost pressures and the uncertainty of consumer behavior as energy and food costs rose," Chief Executive George Deese said in a statement.

The second quarter will witness the steepest increase in commodity costs for the year, Deese added. "In the short term, we will experience greater pressure due to those high costs."

However, he believes the company, which produces, markets, and distributes breads, buns, rolls, and bakery goodies to retail and foodservice customers, will be able to overcome this short-term challenge.   Continuación...