Kraft Stock: An Earnings Preview

Kraft Stock: An Earnings Preview

Kraft Foods Group is set to report earnings after the market closes on Thursday. Here's what you need to watch for in the company's results.

The first issue that needs to be addressed is whether the food and beverage giant met Wall Street's expectations. Analysts peg profits for Kraft at $0.66 per share this quarter. Kraft booked earnings per share of $0.76 in the first quarter of this year. The maker of Oscar Mayer, Cool Whip, and Jell-O reported approximately $4.5 billion in Q1 2013 sales and $18 billion for the full-year 2012.

Organic growth
Kraft Foods' organic net revenues increased 2.1% in Q1 2013 from the same period last year, driven mostly by volume gains from some of the company's core brands, including Kool-Aid, Capri Sun, and Velveeta. Lower pricing tempered top-line growth. The company expects its full-year 2013 organic net revenue growth outlook to be in line with that of the North American food and beverage market.

Kraft Foods Group was formed in the October 2012 breakup of Kraft Foods, when it was spun off from the parent company, which changed its name to Mondelez International . Mondelez took the high-growth global snack-food portfolio, while Kraft Foods received the more sluggish North American grocery business. Yet, since the corporate breakup, Kraft's stock has returned more than 32% to shareholders, vastly outperforming Mondelez, the consumer staples sector, and the overall stock market.

Results from profitability-boosting efforts
Since its spinoff, Kraft has renewed its focus on enhancing profitability by reformulating existing products, stepping up ad spend for core brands, and launching new product categories. For example, earlier this year, it rolled out a new marketing campaign to revitalize Grey Poupon, a brand that has struggled in recent years.

Confined to its North American market, Kraft intends to operate a much leaner, productive, and cost-efficient organization. As a mature business, it is tempering its top-line growth expectations and instead enhancing profitability metrics like return on invested capital and free cash flow. The company expects $1 billion in free cash flow for the full-year 2013.

Foolish takeaway
When Kraft releases its second-quarter results on Thursday, I'll be watching to see exactly if and how the company achieved sales growth in its food and beverage businesses and whether the company is on track to meet its 2013 revenue estimate. I'll also be looking for improvements to profitability as well as indications as to how it intends to expand these metrics in the coming quarters.

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Fool contributor Nicole Seghetti owns shares of Mondelez International. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleSeghetti. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.

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