Heinz Co expects sales growth

By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: The most global U.S.-based food company H.J. Heinz Co. announced that its full-year profit will be near the top of its forecast range.

Earnings a share in the year through April will be at the ``top end'' of the 2.60 dollars to 2.62 dollars the company previously projected. Analysts predict profit of 2.62 dollars, on average.

Heinz is countering rising commodity costs for fuel and wheat by increasing prices and marketing. The company, which gets about half of its revenue from international sales, benefited from a decline in the dollar.

The ketchup maker forecast third-quarter profit of 67 cents to 68 cents a share including the effect of an unexpected tax change. Earnings were weighed down between 31.5% to 32.5%, compared to the previous-year rate of 26%. That's at least 3 cents above than the average estimate of analysts. The company, based in Pittsburgh, expects sales growth of 14% in the third quarter.

Heinz advanced 2.6% to 44 dollars at 8:59 a.m. before U.S. markets opened. Yesterday, the shares fell 21 cents to 42.89 dollars in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Before today, the shares dropped 8.1% this year.

Operating income should increase 8%, driven by continuing momentum in North American consumer products, Europe, Asia/Pacific and the rest of world, partially offset by the U.S. foodservice business.

The Pittsburgh-based food products company will release its final results on February 26.