Sara Lee Earnings Buoyed by Better Income Across Its Businesses

Sara Lee (SLE) reported a profit in its recent quarter, with results driven by improved operating income across all five business segments, but especially its North American retail operation and its international beverage area.

For its fiscal fourth quarter ended July 3, the food company said net income was $187 million, or 28 cents per share, up from a year-earlier loss of $14 million, or 2 cents per share. The loss last year was mostly due to a tax charge. Sara Lee reported adjusted earnings of 19 cents per share, topping estimates by 3 cents.

Revenue for the quarter rose 4.2% to $2.77 billion, up from $2.66 billion a year earlier, and slightly below Wall Street's forecast of $2.86 billion.

"Sara Lee concluded a very strong year," interim CEO Marcel Smits said. "As we look forward to fiscal 2011, we are confident that we will show further base business improvement, and we will appropriately deploy the remaining proceeds from the Household and Body Care divestiture."

Sara Lee said it expected fiscal 2011 earnings to be in the range of 93 cents to $1.02 per share, excluding items. Analysts project 96 cents per share.

On Monday, Sara Lee said CEO Brenda Barnes is stepping down following a stroke she suffered in May. The company didn't provide more information on the search for a replacement CEO in its quarterly report.

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