Kraft Foods Group is set to report earnings on Thursday. Here's what you need to watch for in the company's results.

Earnings expectations
The first issue that needs to be addressed is whether the packaged food and beverage giant met Wall Street's expectations. Analysts peg profits for Kraft at $0.62 per share this quarter. Kraft booked EPS of $0.83 in the third quarter, which included a $0.18 bump from market-based impacts to its pension plans. Due to these impacts, the maker of Oscar Mayer, Maxwell House, and Jell-O raised its full-year 2013 EPS guidance in Q3 to $3.58, versus its previous $3.40.


Organic growth
Kraft's revenue slipped 4.2% in the third quarter. Declines were partly attributed to soft Jell-O sales, volume weakness in salad dressings and mayonnaise, and lower prices from higher levels of merchandising activity for Capri Sun and Kool-Aid. 

But a major reason for the decline stemmed from maneuverings related to its October 2012 spinoff from Mondelez International. Last year, Kraft prematurely shipped product to retailers as a precaution before its split from Mondelez. As a result, Kraft booked more revenue in the third quarter of last year than it otherwise would have.

Kraft expects its full-year 2013 revenue growth to come in at the same rate or slightly lower than the overall North American food and beverage market.

Outcomes from profitability-boosting efforts
Since the corporate breakup from Mondelez, Kraft's management has prioritized profit above revenue growth. As a result, Kraft has operated as a more cost-efficient organization, focusing on metrics like free cash flow and return on invested capital. After cutting jobs and other expenses, the company possesses a leaner cost structure.

So far, Kraft's profitability-boosting efforts appear to be paying off. At the end of the third quarter, Kraft's free cash flow stood at $745 million year to date, and the company expects its full-year 2013 figure to come in at $1.2 billion, up from a previous $1 billion estimate.  

Foolish final thoughts
When Kraft releases its quarterly results on Thursday, I'll be watching to see if and how the packaged food and beverage powerhouse achieved sales growth and whether the company meet its full-year revenue estimate. I'll especially be looking for improvements to profitability as well as indications as to how Kraft intends to expand these metrics in the coming quarters.

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The article Kraft Foods Group, Inc.: An Earnings Preview originally appeared on Fool.com.

Nicole Seghetti owns shares of Mondelez International. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleSeghetti. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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