Shares in Minnesota food maker International Multifoods Corporation (NYSE:IMC) got a lift this week when the company released earnings that show a 34% increase in net profits for this year's third quarter. (For those of you wondering, "what in the heck is International Multifoods?" think of supermarket-shelf favorites like Pillsbury bake mixes and Hungry Jack pancakes.)

But while the IM's dough looks to be rising, it's more fluff than stuff. There are a few after-tax charges both last year and this year that bear scrutiny. Last year, IMC took charges totaling $0.26 per share. There was a $0.03 charge this quarter. If you adjust for these, IMC's recent EPS from operations actually fell to $0.76 from $0.81.

More troubling are the other negative signs on the latest sheets. The problems for International Multifoods are as simple as a big drop in sales. Net sales fell 12%. Much of the loss was blamed on successful promotions by rivals. That's definitely not the kind of excuse that should fly well with shareholders.

When we last checked-in with International Multifoods, it had been smacked by investors after reducing its Q3 guidance.

It can't be easy for International Multifoods, as big customers like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Kroger (NYSE:KR), SYSCO (NYSE:SYY), and Costco (NASDAQ:COST) undoubtedly put a squeeze on margins through their aggressive buying habits. But it's tough to imagine the recently announced cost-cutting measures bearing much fruit if the company can't put a positive slant on the sales graph.

None of this sends IM down for the count. Its decent cash flow and heavyweight consumer brands mean it will remain a player. But with Multifoods' revenues sagging, value-minded investors may want to wait for a better price before joining this bake sale.

Hankering to talk flapjacks? Join the discussion on Fools IMC board.

Seth Jayson spent a summer at Pillsbury, sending trainloads of ice cream ingredients to the company's Haagen-Dazs plant in France. But he has no position in any company mentioned here. Reach him at