General Mills: Updates Targets For Fiscal 2015 Growth

Minneapolis / MN. (gm) General Mills Inc. said that in response to continued weak food-industry trends in the U.S. and slowing growth in key emerging markets, the company is reducing its sales and earnings expectations for the fiscal year ending in May 2015.

General Mills fiscal 2015 net sales in constant currency are now expected to grow at a low single-digit rate from the 2014 base of 17.9 billion USD. This includes an estimated two points of sales growth from the 53rd week in fiscal 2015 and approximately 120 million USD of incremental sales from the Annie´s organic and natural food businesses acquired October 21, 2014. Annie´s will be consolidated into General Mills´ 2015 results on a one-month lag basis.

Total segment operating profit in constant currency is expected to decline at a low single-digit rate from prior-year results of 3.15 billion USD. This includes more than 400 million USD in cost of goods savings from holistic margin management (HMM), along with 40 million USD in savings from projects initiated this year to streamline the company´s North American supply chain and further reduce overhead costs.

Fiscal 2015 adjusted diluted earnings per share are expected to grow at a low single-digit rate in constant currency from the base of 2.82 USD earned in fiscal 2014. This includes an estimated contribution from Annie´s of one cent per share. Adjusted diluted earnings per share for the second quarter ending November 23, 2014, are expected to be between 0.75 USD and 0.77 USD. This compares to adjusted diluted EPS of 0.83 USD earned in the prior year´s second quarter.

Previously, General Mills had been targeting mid single-digit constant-currency growth in net sales and segment operating profit, and high single-digit constant-currency growth in adjusted diluted EPS for fiscal 2015.

General Mills said that its International and Convenience Stores + Foodservice operating segments remain on track to achieve their full-year operating profit growth targets for fiscal 2015. The company´s U.S. Retail operating segment is now expected to show an operating profit decline for fiscal 2015. In Nielsen-measured U.S. retail outlets, General Mills fiscal 2015 year-to-date (YTD) sales are growing in key categories such as yoghurt, grain snacks, fruit snacks and frozen pizza. The company´s YTD market shares are flat or up in categories representing 75 percent of the company´s sales volume in measured outlets. Businesses posting market share increases include cereal, yoghurt, grain and fruit snacks, ready-to-serve soup, and frozen pizza and hot snacks. General Mills´ YTD composite Dollar share in measured outlets is 15 basis points below the prior year, led by market share declines in frozen vegetables and dessert mixes. The company is making tactical adjustments in its marketing plans for these categories in response to competitive activity.

Update on Recently Announced Cost Savings Initiatives

In June 2014, General Mills announced the initiation of projects designed to generate cost savings and fuel accelerated topline growth for the company. These projects focus on streamlining the company´s North American supply chain network and reducing overhead costs. Together, these initiatives are expected to generate 40 million USD in cost savings in fiscal 2015. The company said today that by fiscal 2016, cumulative annual savings from these efforts are expected to total between 260 and 280 million USD. Cumulative annual savings in fiscal 2017 are expected to exceed 2016 levels.

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