After deciding back in February 2005 that there were too many cooks in the kitchen, food and beverage firm Sara Lee (NYSE:SLE) jettisoned a number of non-core business units. It's now been two full quarters since it completed its most significant corporate overhaul, spinning off Hanesbrands (NYSE:HBI) to shareholders. But it'll take even longer for investors to discern whether the updated corporate recipe for growth is paying off.

Fiscal second-quarter results, released yesterday, continued a messy quarterly trend. The costs of restructuring and selling or spinning off subsidiaries resulted in a loss for the quarter. Management also reduced guidance for all of fiscal 2007 to a range of $0.58-$0.64 per share. It's hard to tell whether the reduction is due to remaining operational difficulties, or the plethora of special charges, tax benefits, and whatnot. Heck, Sara Lee even received $0.16 per share in contingent proceeds from a tobacco business it sold off in 1999. Perhaps the moving parts will never completely stop spinning.

Sara Lee is calling for 5%-6% top-line growth for fiscal 2007, which appears to approach the level at which the remaining food, beverage, bakery, and body care operations are capable of growing.

For the first half of the fiscal year, total sales improved 5.9%, with notable strength in the international beverage, household and body care, and North American retail bakery segments. But total operating income from continuing operations fell 16.8%, continuing the confusion over whether Sara Lee will be able to post consistent profitability going forward.

The stock is trading just below its 52-week highs, so investors appear comfortable with where Sara Lee is heading. Its 2.3% dividend yield offers some level of consolation for waiting until bottom-line trends stabilize. However, peers such as Unilever (NYSE:UL) (NYSE:UN), H.J. Heinz (NYSE:HNZ), and Kraft (NYSE:KFT) pay even higher dividend coupons and are also worth keeping an eye on. The former two are going through restructuring activities of their own, after years of acquisitive growth. Kraft is gearing up to become an independent firm again, once Altria (NYSE:MO) frees it from the corporate fold. Time will tell whether Sara Lee ends up being the tastiest of the batch.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in company other mentioned. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further.