Kraft Foods Group, Inc. Earnings Release: What You Need to Know

Kraft Foods Group  (NASDAQ: KRFT  )  released earnings after Thursday's closing bell. Here's what you need to know about the company's recent announcement.

Sizable one-time gain helped propel earnings
The maker of Oscar Mayer, Velveeta, and Miracle Whip whipped up fourth-quarter profit of $1.54 per share, including a sizable $1.11 gain tied to market-based impacts to benefit plans. Earnings growth was also attributed to lower spending on cost-savings initiatives. Kraft's full-year EPS was $4.51 a share, up $1.76 from the previous year. The packaged foods powerhouse's full-year 2013 EPS guidance was $3.58.

Mac-and-cheese maker posted Q4 revenue growth
Kraft's revenue grew 2.3% in the fourth quarter, but declined 0.3% for the full-year 2013. Quarterly increases partly stemmed from successful innovations in on-demand coffee and growth in Kraft and Cracker Barrel cheeses as well as Philadelphia cream cheese. The quarterly surge in earnings was also attributed to favorable comparisons with retail inventory reductions due to the October 2012 spinoff from Mondelez International. Mondelez reported disappointing earnings and slowing emerging markets growth when it released earnings earlier this week. Yet the cookie and candy giant unveiled a sweeter outlook for 2014.

Profitability-boosting efforts are paying off
Since the corporate breakup from Mondelez, Kraft's management has prioritized profit above revenue growth. As a result, it has operated as a more cost-efficient organization, focusing on metrics like free cash flow and return on invested capital. The company expected its full-year 2013 free cash flow to come in at $1.2 billion, up from a previous $1 billion estimate. Instead, Kraft posted $1.5 billion in free cash flow for 2013. However, while this figure reflects improved inventory and payables management, $600 million of it is attributed to the impact of pension plan contributions.  

Foolish final thoughts
Even though Kraft's quarterly gains are partly attributed to higher returns that benefited its pension plans and favorable comparisons, management appears focused on the right metrics. Keep watching in the coming quarters to see if Kraft's efforts translate into long-term benefits for its shareholders.

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