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Q2 sales up, profits down for Campbell’s

BY DSN STAFF

CAMDEN, N.J. The Campbell Soup Co. says its second-quarter profit slipped 3.9 percent even though its sales rose.

The world’s largest soup maker stated that it earned $274 million or 71 cents per share for the three months ended Jan. 27. That was down from $285 million, or 72 cents a share, a year ago. Its sales climbed 7.4 percent to $2.21 billion from $2.1 billion a year earlier.

The company attributed that sales growth to volume and mix, which added 4 percent, price and sales allowances, which added 1 percent, increased promotional spending, which subtracted 1 percent; and currency, which added 3 percent.

“Through the first half of the year we have delivered strong sales growth across many of our businesses. Despite the difficult operating environment, we also have delivered solid earnings performance from continuing operations, while maintaining marketing support for our key brands.,” said Douglas Conant, president and chief executive officer.

“In the quarter, our U.S. soup business rebounded from a slow start to the year, driven by the performance of ready-to-serve soups and broths. Across our soup portfolio, lower sodium soups continued to perform well. Our beverage business continued its outstanding performance, with double-digit sales growth. Pepperidge Farm delivered strong sales and earnings growth in spite of significant commodity cost increases.”

For all of fiscal 2008, Campbell’s still expects profits to be up 5 percent to 7 percent.

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Coke Zero to debut NASCAR TV spots during Daytona broadcast

BY Diana Alickaj

ATLANTA Coke Zero’s new NASCAR ad that actively stumped the famous drivers of NASCAR, is set to air on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Daytona 500, which the Fox network will be broadcasting.

The advertisement, which includes actors posing as Coca-Cola brand managers, is an extension of Coke Zero’s 2007 campaign in which “Coca-Cola managers” tried to sue their coworkers on the basis of “taste infringement,” because Coke Zero tastes so much like Coca Cola. As Coke Zero is now the official soft drink of NASCAR, this year’s ads will feature 30-second and 60-second spots of the same Coca-Cola brand managers now extending their passion against Coke Zero to NASCAR’s fastest drivers.

Labeled “NASCAR sabotage,” the ad shows the Coca-Cola brand managers trying to convince the NASCAR racers that they should “enjoy the track for longer” and “throw a race” so Coke Zero would not end up in the winner’s circle. The drivers featured in the commercial apparently did not realize that it was, in fact, a commercial, and were stunned by their suggestions.

Two-Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Tony Stewart explained his confusion: “At first, the fake Coca-Cola brand guys came across as really serious, so we were trying to be polite and figure out what they were thinking, but the more they talked the crazier their ideas became until it got to be pretty unbelievable. While it was an unusual experience, Coke Zero is a fun brand and this was a clever way to shoot this commercial.”

The ad will feature top NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Petty, Eliott Sadler, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.

The 60-second version of the ad is set to air on the special Daytona 500 ad showcase on Nascar.com, which will begin at 7 a.m., and the 30- and 60-second versions will appear through cinemas and television throughout the racing season. All ads are currently posted at cokezero.com and NASCAR.com.

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NECCO gets help from Mass. governor, will remain open

BY DSN STAFF

REVERE Candy hearts maker NECCO will stay open thanks to help from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s help in finalizing a deal with a buyer.

The candy company, which relocated from Cambridge to Revere a few years ago, was considering shutting down if it could not find a buyer, state officials said.

But after NECCO, also known as the New England Confectionary Co., found a potential match, Patrick administration officials helped close the deal, mediating months of complex negotiations.

Officials said no state grants or tax incentives were needed, just help from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development in negotiating. Bethesda, Md.-based American Capital Strategies closed the deal late last year after eight months of talks.

Without a buyer, NECCO might have had to shutter operations, a move that would have cost 650 jobs, officials said.

“It’s great to know that an iconic classic like NECCO is staying right here in the commonwealth,” said Kofi Jones, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

 “There were times when it didn’t look like it was going to work,” said Dominic Antonellis, NECCO’s chief executive officer. “People from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development helped me hold people together and keep the deal strong.”

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