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Kraft 4Q Net Rose 54% On Higher Prices; Costs Hurt Margins

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Kraft Foods Inc.'s (KFT) fourth-quarter earnings rose 54% as higher prices continued to boost the packaged-food giant's revenue, though increased costs hurt margins. The maker of Kraft cheese, Oscar Mayer lunch meats and Planters nuts has been able to pass along price increases relatively well as its profits have grown in recent quarters, despite rising commodity costs. The company said last month it will cut about 1,600 positions in North America throughout 2012 as it prepares to split itself into two companies: a global snack company and a North American grocery business. Kraft reported a profit of $830 million, or 47 cents a share, up from $540 million, or 31 cents, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition, integration, divestitures and other items, earnings were 57 cents in the most-recent quarter. Revenue jumped 6.6% to $14.69 billion and organic revenue grew 6.1%. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 57 cents on revenue of $14.79 billion. Gross margin fell to 33.3% from 34.8% as input costs jumped 9.1%. Operating profit at Kraft's North American business was up 8.9% as organic revenue rose 7%. European operating profit increased 7.5%, while organic revenue grew 3.1%. Kraft also forecast 2012 organic revenue growth of about 5%, including a negative impact of up to one percentage point from product pruning in North America. Shares closed Friday at $38.01 and were inactive premarket. The stock has risen 1.7% so far this year. -By Melodie Warner, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2283;

Stock News for Kraft (KFT)
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05/30/201214:55:46Kraft Issuing $6 Billion Of Bonds As Treasurys Rally
05/18/201216:04:39Kraft Lowers Prices On Maxwell House, Other Coffee Brands -Reuters
05/18/201210:05:31Kraft: IRS Confirms Tax-Free Status Of Spinoff
05/15/201218:54:34Ackman's Pershing Square Slashes Kraft Stake By Nearly 27%
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05/03/201216:55:15Kraft 1Q Profit Up 1.8% As Revenue Strengthens, Margins Weaken
05/03/201212:24:36Ackman's Pershing Square Funds Gain 1% In April
04/17/201215:44:24Demand Rises For Rainforest Alliance Coffee And Other Crops
04/13/201202:29:48European 1Q Cocoa Grindings Fall 0.1% On Year - ECA
04/12/201215:38:38Kraft Ends Athenos Greek-Yogurt Line, Exits Fast-Growing Space
04/10/201214:12:10EARNINGS PREVIEW: Consumer-Product Cos Take Steps To Defend Market...
04/06/201217:56:10Kraft Recalls Batch Of Planters Peanut Snacks
04/03/201215:46:12Kraft Lifts The Lid On Its Grocery Business
04/03/201210:07:22Kraft CEO's Total 2011 Compensation Up 13.5% To $21.9 Million

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