supermarketBefore markets opened this morning, Kraft Foods Group Inc. (NASDAQ: KRFT) announced major cuts to its fourth quarter 2012 financial guidance. Kraft is the stodgy bit of the former Kraft Foods, with brands like Jell-O, Velveeta and Oscar Meyer, while its spinoff, Mondelez International (NASDAQ: MDLZ), is the jazzier part of the separation, with Oreo, Nabisco and Cadbury brands in its stable.

Kraft is adopting a new retirement benefits strategy, which it says it will fund in 2013 from cash on hand and thereafter from cash flow from operations. The company anticipates making a $600 million payment into the pension fund in 2013 and annual contributions of $225 million in subsequent years.

The new Kraft Foods says fourth-quarter revenues will be 10.7% lower than fourth-quarter 2011 revenues, which includes the effects of one less week of sales and a 0.7% impact from currency effects and sales to Mondelez. Operating income is expected to total $260 million, which includes about $225 million related to its retirement program, $135 million for restructuring and $46 million in noncash hedging losses. Fourth-quarter EPS is now forecast at $0.15, which does not include $0.42 in one-time charges for the items noted. The consensus EPS for the quarter is $0.23.

The company expects full-year 2013 EPS of $2.75, up from previous guidance of $2.60. The rosier outlook includes a noncash benefit of $0.22 related to retirement benefits accounting and an additional $0.07 in restructuring charges. The consensus estimate currently calls for EPS of $2.67. Total restructuring charges in 2013 are expected to reach $0.33 a share, which represents about $300 million of the total $650 million Kraft expects to spend over the life of the restructuring program.

Shares of Kraft Foods are down about 1.4% in premarket trading this morning, at $46.50 in a post-spinoff range of $42.00 to $48.00. Shares closed at $47.16 last night.


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Earnings Warning, Food Tagged: KRFT, MDLZ

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