It seems it's a bit of a case of same story, different day at Kraft
Kraft, which is majority owned by Altria
The company whittled at its yearly earnings guidance, saying it now expects to bring in $1.56 to $1.60 per share. (To refresh your memory, last quarter, Kraft also shaved down guidance to $1.55 to $1.62 per share, from the $1.63-to-$1.70 range.) It anticipates year-over-year sales growth of 3%. Free cash flow decreased by 7% to $1.91 billion for the first nine months of the year because of voluntary pension contributions and lower earnings, though Kraft did not provide a full cash flow statement with its release.
Investors who are waiting for a turnaround at Kraft will be waiting awhile longer. It's still struggling with its restructuring, an initiative that may end up with Kraft peddling off some of its well-known candy brands, such as curiously strong Altoids. The obvious candidates for such a sale are of course companies such as Hershey
Despite the negative factors that keep on dogging Kraft, one could argue that the company is at the vanguard of food manufacturers that are attempting to take a more proactive role in health. With a nation that seems sure to become more obsessive about its high obesity rates and related health disorders, Kraft has made several steps in addressing dietary trends and concerns.
It's wooing South Beach dieters with some items, and it's working to make its nutrition labeling clearer for consumers. Both initiatives could prove beneficial or risky to a company that boasts a stable of kitchen favorites such as Oreos, Boca, Oscar Mayer, Jell-O, DiGiorno, and of course, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (or is that Kraft Cheese and Macaroni?). However, some of its products may remind one of a different place and time -- consider Kool-Aid, Velveeta, Maxwell House, and the like.
Kraft's recently hiked dividend may have given some investors reason for patience, and there's some glimmer of improvement when one compares today's word with that of recent history. However, it's clear this giant's still got a lot on its plate as it attempts to restart its growth engines.
Motley Fool Income Investor picks dividend-paying stocks that deliver growth and income for investors.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.