General Mills Shares Slide as Outlook Disappoints

Food company General Mills (GIS) declined almost 4% in premarket trading after the company's earnings outlook fell below estimates Tuesday.

The maker of popular cereal brands including Cheerios and Wheaties said that it expected full-year earnings to fall between $2.46 to $2.48 per share, lower than Thomson Reuters' expectations of $2.49.

Also Tuesday, the company reported that net sales dropped 2% to $3.6 billion in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year from a year earlier. The year-ago quarter had an extra week, General Mills said in a statement.

Earnings per share was 41 cents in the fourth quarter of 2010, down from 43 cents a year earlier.

In a statement, CEO Ken Powell said "This was an exceptional year for our company. We achieved broad-based sales growth and expanded gross margin, which allowed us to invest at above-planned levels in media support and selling capabilities. And our 16 percent EPS increase significantly exceeded the high single-digit rate we target in our long-term growth model."