General Mills Earnings Up on Divestitures

General Mills Inc. (GIS) Wednesday reported a rise in quarterly earnings, boosted by a gain from divestitures, even as recent price increases on cereals like Cheerios (search) and Wheaties (search) hampered sales.

Net income rose to $460 million, or $1.14 per share, for the fiscal fourth quarter ended May 29, from $278 million, or 68 cents per share, a year ago.

Earnings included gains from the sale of its 40.5 percent interest in Snack Ventures Europe (search) and the Lloyd's barbecue entree business as well as restructuring items and a change in the accounting of convertible debt.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were 64 cents a share. On that basis, Wall Street analysts expected earnings of between 61 cents and 68 cents per share, with an average view of 65 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales fell 3 percent to $2.72 billion for the quarter, which had one less week than the year-earlier period.

The company also said it expected earnings per share to be up 7 percent to 8 percent in fiscal 2006 from $2.67 a share in fiscal 2005, which excluded one-time items.

It also said it resumed share repurchases in 2006. The company previously announced an increase of 6 percent in the quarterly dividend, bringing the rate to $1.32 a share annually.