Campbell Soup Co. (CPB), the world's largest soupmaker, reported steady earnings on higher sales for its second fiscal quarter which includes some cold months when soup sales generally rise. Its shares fell 2.5 percent in early trading.

The foodmaker which also produces V-8 juices and Pepperidge Farm (search) cookies earned $235 million, or 57 cents per share, during the quarter ended Jan. 30, matching its results for the period a year ago.

Sales rose 5.9 percent to $2.2 billion from $2.1 billion the second quarter of fiscal 2004.

A higher cost of producing the products and increased spending on marketing kept profits from rising.

The report fell short of the consensus expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call, who anticipated earnings of 59 cents per share.

Its shares fell 74 cents to $28.75 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).

For the first six months of the company's fiscal year, Campbell earned $465 million, or $1.13 per share, up from $446 million, or $1.08 a share, a year ago. Sales for that period were $4.3 billion, up 7.6 percent from $4.01 billion a year ago.

The Camden-based company has for years been trying to stabilize sales of its highly profitable condensed soups while growing its other brands. Condensed soup sales for the first half of the year are up 7 percent. The company said that is the biggest gain in years.

The company also reported that putting the Campbell name on its SpaghettiO's (search) pasta brand helped increase sales of that child-oriented line of food.