General Mills Inc. reported results for the second quarter and first half of fiscal 2012.
Net sales for the 13 weeks ended Nov. 27, 2011, grew 14 percent to $4.62 billion. Price realization and mix contributed 3 points of sales growth, and foreign exchange contributed 1 point of growth. Pound volume contributed 10 points of growth, including 14 points of growth from the Yoplait acquisition. Gross margin as a percent of net sales was below year-ago levels due to higher input costs and the change in business mix to include the Yoplait acquisition. Advertising and media expense increased 8 percent in the period. Segment operating profit grew 2 percent to $873 million. Second-quarter net earnings attributable to General Mills totaled $445 million and diluted earnings per share totaled 67 cents. Adjusted diluted earnings per share, which excludes the effects of mark-to-market valuation of certain commodity positions in both fiscal 2012 and 2011, Yoplait integration costs in 2012, and a net benefit from certain tax matters in 2011, totaled 76 cents for the second quarter in each year.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ken Powell said in a prepared statement, "General Mills second-quarter results show good net sales growth worldwide. Our Yoplait acquisition fueled a more than 50 percent increase in total international sales. Strong levels of net price realization and product innovation drove sales increases for our established International operations, and for our bakeries and foodservice and U.S. retail business segments. Significantly higher input costs pressured our margins, as expected. But in total, performance for the quarter and year-to-date has us on track to meet the key financial targets we have set for fiscal 2012."
Through the first six months of fiscal 2012, General Mills net sales grew 12 percent to $8.47 billion, including 6 points of growth from the international Yoplait acquisition. Price realization and mix contributed 5 points of net sales growth, and foreign exchange contributed 1 point of growth. Pound volume contributed 6 points of net sales growth, including 10 points of growth from the Yoplait acquisition. Segment operating profit of $1.60 billion essentially matched year-ago levels. Net earnings attributable to General Mills totaled $850 million and diluted EPS totaled $1.28. Adjusted diluted earnings per share, which excludes mark-to-market effects, Yoplait integration costs, and the net tax benefit a year ago, totaled $1.41 for the first half of 2012 compared to $1.40 in the first half of 2011.
Retail segment grew 3 percent to $2.94 billion. Pound volume reduced net sales growth by 7 points, primarily reflecting lower shipments of items such as flour and dessert mixes, canned and frozen vegetables, and yogurt. Price realization and mix contributed 10 points of net sales growth in the quarter. Segment operating profit of $661 million was 4 percent below prior-year levels, reflecting higher input costs and a 6 percent increase in advertising and media expense.
Net sales for Big G cereals grew 1 percent, including gains from established brands such as Honey Nut Chex and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and good contributions from new products including Cinnamon Burst Cheerios and Fiber One 80 Calorie cereal. Net sales for the Snacks division grew 20 percent led by Fiber One and Nature Valley snack bar varieties. Sales for the Pillsbury division grew 9 percent with good contributions from Totino's frozen snacks and pizza, Pillsbury refrigerated baked goods, and new Pillsbury frozen breakfast items. Sales for the baking products division grew 2 percent, reflecting strong net price realization. Meals division net sales were 2 percent below year-ago levels reflecting lower volume for several product lines, including canned vegetables, frozen entrees, and potato mixes. Yoplait division net sales were 6 percent below year-ago levels as growth from Go-Gurt, Yoplait Greek and Mountain High yogurt was offset by declines on several established product lines. Net sales for Small Planet Foods increased 17 percent led by Cascadian Farm cereals and Larabar fruit and nut energy bars.
Through six months, U.S. retail net sales grew 3 percent to $5.45 billion. Pound volume reduced net sales growth by 6 points, while price realization and mix contributed 9 points of growth. Segment operating profit declined 4 percent through the first half to $1.25 billion.
Second-quarter net sales for General Mills' consolidated international businesses grew 55 percent to reach $1.16 billion, including 43 points of net sales growth from the Yoplait acquisition. Pound volume contributed 80 points of net sales growth, including 76 points of growth from the Yoplait acquisition. Price realization and mix subtracted 27 points of sales growth, while foreign currency exchange contributed 2 points of growth. On a constant-currency basis, International segment net sales grew 53 percent overall, with sales more than doubling in Europe, and gains of 37 percent in Canada, 20 percent in Latin America and 16 percent in the Asia/Pacific region. (Please see Note 7 below for a reconciliation of this non-GAAP measure.) Advertising and media expense grew 17 percent in the second quarter. International segment operating profit totaled $134 million, up 50 percent from year-ago levels.
Through six months, International segment net sales grew 43 percent to $2.02 billion, including 30 points of growth from the Yoplait acquisition. Pound volume contributed 55 points of growth, foreign exchange contributed 6 points, and price realization and mix subtracted 18 points. Segment operating profit grew 42 percent to $214 million.
Second-quarter net sales for the bakeries and foodservice segment grew 12 percent to $522 million. Pound volume contributed 3 points of net sales growth, and price realization and mix contributed 9 points of growth. Customer channel performance was strong with net sales to convenience stores up 14 percent, sales to foodservice distributors up 11 percent, and sales to bakeries and national restaurant accounts up 12 percent. Segment operating profit of $78 million was consistent with year-ago levels.
Through the first half of fiscal 2012, net sales for bakeries and foodservice increased 12 percent to $1.00 billion. Pound volume contributed 1 point of net sales growth, with price realization and mix generating the rest of the sales increase. Segment operating profit totaled $139 million, 7 percent below year-ago levels due to significantly higher input costs and lower grain merchandising earnings.
After-tax earnings from the Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW) and Haagen Dazs Japan (HDJ) joint ventures totaled $29 million, down from $35 million a year ago primarily due to higher input costs for CPW. Net sales for CPW grew 1 percent in the period and net sales for Haagen Dazs Japan were 2 percent above year-ago levels. Through the first six months of fiscal 2012, after-tax earnings from joint ventures declined 6 percent to $57 million, as good net sales growth was offset by higher input costs.
Unallocated corporate items totaled $155 million of expense in this year's second quarter compared to $29 million of expense a year ago. This primarily reflected differences in the mark-to-market valuation of certain commodity positions, which represented a $94 million net increase in expense in the second quarter of 2012 compared to a $28 million net decrease in last year's second quarter. Excluding mark-to-market effects, unallocated corporate items totaled a net $61 million of expense this year compared to a net $57 million of expense in last year's second quarter. This year's second quarter included $4 million of integration expense for the Yoplait acquisition.
Net interest expense of $87 million was up 7 percent due to higher debt levels following the Yoplait acquisition. The effective tax rate for the second quarter of 2012 was 33.3 percent. Last year's second quarter effective tax rate of 21.7 percent included a net benefit related to two discrete tax matters. Excluding certain items affecting comparability, the second quarter effective tax rate was 33.7 percent this year compared to 33.5 percent a year ago.
Cash provided by operating activities totaled $1.15 billion in the first half of 2012, an increase from last year's first-half results due primarily to reduced use of working capital in the period. Capital investments totaled $265 million in the first half of 2012. Dividends paid rose to $400 million, reflecting the increase in the dividend rate year-over-year. During the first half, General Mills repurchased approximately 6 million shares of common stock, including 3 million in the second quarter.
Outlook The company's guidance for the second half of fiscal 2012 calls for double-digit growth in net sales and high single-digit to low double-digit growth in adjusted diluted earnings per share. "Our net sales in the second half will continue to reflect the significant addition of international Yoplait revenues. We also expect our base business to show good sales growth, fueled by strong levels of product innovation and consumer marketing support," Powell said. The company expects its second-half gross margin as a percent of sales will be below year-ago levels, reflecting the shift in business mix to include the Yoplait acquisition as well as the continued pressure of higher input costs year-over-year. Second-half segment operating profit is expected to be above year-ago levels, including a planned increase in advertising and media investment.
The company reaffirmed its full-year fiscal 2012 EPS guidance of $2.59 to $2.61, excluding mark-to-market effects and integration costs for the Yoplait acquisition.
Earnings per share excluding certain items, total company segment operating profit, international net sales excluding foreign currency translation effects, and effective tax rate excluding certain items are each non-GAAP measures.