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Heinz shares hit 13-year high as profit beats expectations

Heinz tomato ketchup product line the shelves of a West Mifflin, Pa., market on Aug. 31, 2006.


Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co. said first-quarter earnings rose more than expected, helped by emerging market growth, improved productivity, higher margins and a favourable tax rate, sending its shares to their highest level in more than 13 years.

Heinz, which also sells Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, said in a pre-announcement on Tuesday it plans to report earnings of 87 cents per share on organic sales growth of almost 5 per cent on Wednesday.

Analysts, on average, expected 80 cents per share.

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Speaking at Heinz's annual shareholders' meeting on Tuesday, chief executive William Johnson said the company boosted earnings per share in the quarter "despite the headwinds of a still weak economy and adverse foreign currency trends that reduced EPS by around four cents."

Johnson said the company was on track to deliver its previously announced forecast for fiscal 2013, which calls for earnings of $3.52 to $3.62 per share.

Heinz shares were up $1.72, or 3 per cent, to $58.18 on the New York Stock Exchange. They earlier touched a high of $58.24, their highest level since February 1999.

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