On a GAAP basis, EPS totaled $0.51. Excluded items include $16 million in pretax income related to acquisition and restructuring costs and another $16 million pretax hedging costs.
The company’s CEO said:
We are pleased that both of our segments posted operating profit growth in the midst of current economic conditions. Effective margin management initiatives, moderating input cost inflation, the benefit of acquisitions, and good results from our potato operations are collectively driving high-quality EPS growth.
ConAgra announced in late November that it would acquire Ralcorp Holdings Inc. (NYSE: RAH) in a deal worth a total of about $6.8 billion, and that acquisition is on track to be completed by the end of the first calendar quarter of next year.
The company raised the low end of its full-year guidance from EPS of $2.03 to $2.06, which had been the high end of previous guidance. The boost includes the effect of a planned increase in marketing spending and does not include any benefit from the Ralcorp acquisition. The consensus estimate for 2013 EPS had been $2.07.
Shares are up 3.5% in premarket trading this morning, at $31.01, which would be a new 52-week high if it holds. The current 52-week range is $23.64 to $30.55. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $33.70 before today’s results were announced.