UPDATE 1-General Mills profit beats estimates as U.S. sales rise

Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:29am EDT
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March 18 (Reuters) - General Mills Inc, the maker of Cheerios cereal and Betty Crocker cake mixes, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as sales rose in the United States after five straight quarters of decline.

Sales in the United States grew 1 percent in the third quarter, helped by higher sales of yogurt and snacks, the company said on Wednesday.

General Mills shares rose about 1 percent to $52.40 in premarket trading.

The company, which makes Yoplait yoghurts, has seen sluggish U.S. sales of products such as cereals and frozen foods in the past few years as consumers shift to foods perceived as healthier.

General Mills, along with ConAgra Foods Inc and Campbell Soup Co, is expanding into faster-growing segments such as natural and organic foods.

General Mills said in September that it would acquire organic food maker Annie's Inc for about $820 million.

The company also said on Wednesday that it expected to complete the elimination of about 800 jobs, mainly in the United States, by the end of fiscal 2015 under its "Catalyst" cost-cutting plan.

General Mills expects to take a net charge of about $146 million related to these job cuts, it said.   Continued...