General Mills continues quest for customers, sales slide

General Mills headquarters
The General Mills headquarters in Minnesota, circa June 2014.
Courtesy of General Mills

Updated: 11:27 a.m. | Posted: 7:59 a.m.

Profit at General Mills slumped 9 percent during its most recent quarter and the food company lowered its outlook for the year as it tries to win back customers.

Shares fell more than 3 percent Tuesday.

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Like other big food companies, General Mills has been hurt as more Americans stay away from processed foods. The company has been tinkering with its recipes, adding more protein to Yoplait yogurt and using antibiotic-free chicken in Progresso soups. But yogurt and soup sales still fell in the second quarter.

General Mills, which also makes Cheerios cereal and Betty Crocker cake mix, now expects organic net sales to fall between 3 percent and 4 percent for the year. It previously expected organic net sales to be flat or down as much as 2 percent. Organic net sales exclude the impact of currency fluctuations, acquisitions or divestitures.

The company said changes to its cereals have helped sales, including adding more cocoa to Cocoa Puffs and more cinnamon to Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It plans to launch Very Berry Cheerios next month, the classic cereal with the addition of real strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

The Minneapolis company reported net income of $481.8 million, or 80 cents per share, in its second quarter. That's down from $529.5 million, or 87 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 85 cents per share, falling short of the 88 cents per share Wall Street analysts had expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue fell 7 percent to $4.11 billion in the period, also shy of Wall Street expectations.

Shares of General Mills Inc. fell $1.97, or 3.1 percent, to $61.09 in morning trading Tuesday.