Sysco Corp. (SYY), the largest foodservice distributor in North America, said Monday that third-quarter earnings climbed 11.4 percent from last year, as improved sales helped offset increased fuel costs.

Net income grew to $218.2 million, or 34 cents per share, in the quarter ended April 2 from $195.8 million, or 30 cents per share, a year ago. Sales increased 5.9 percent to $7.44 billion from $7.03 billion last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for profit of 33 cents per share on sales of $7.39 billion in the latest period.

The company also said it benefited from a reversal of an $11 million accrual for an income tax contingency during the quarter. Sysco (search) believes that the tax accrual is no longer warranted.

"I am especially proud of the way our companies overcame the more difficult operating expense environment that resulted from higher fuel costs and harsh weather in the Northeast and the Midwest," said Chairman and CEO Richard J. Schnieders.

Sysco shares rose 73 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $35.33 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. They have traded in a 52-week range of $29.48 to $39.73.