As with all food companies these days, rising costs continue to weigh heavily on General Mills'
Revenue for the quarter grew by 3%, to $3.63 billion. Though volumes declined by 4% because of lower promotional activities, certain segments helped the top line grow.
Both the International and Bakeries & Foodservices segments saw high sales growth. However, the U.S. retail segment -- the company's largest by revenue -- suffered a 2% decline, hurt by weak volumes. Lower same-store sales at Wal-Mart
General Mills has some serious outflows lined up for next year as well, including a $1.2 billion purchase of Yoplait International, the yogurt maker. This move could have a significant effect on the company's numbers down the road, not to mention its cash-management decisions. General Mills has already announced that it's reducing share repurchases as a result.
General Mills expects input costs to go up by 10 to 11% next year, and it’s not alone. ConAgra's
The Foolish bottom line
With first-quarter earnings expected to be lower, and both sales and operating profit expected to grow at low-single-digit rates for fiscal 2012, things are not looking so bright for General Mills. Moreover, raising product prices can offset costs only to a limited extent. I'd prefer to remain cautious and wait for some optimistic headway before committing myself to this stock.
Fool contributor Neha Chamaria owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.