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Kraft Heinz Q4 adjusted EPS misses Street estimate as US sales slump

The Kraft Heinz Co.'s adjusted EPS fell during its fiscal fourth quarter as lower U.S. demand for cheese, cold cuts and other processed foods hurt sales, the company said Feb. 16.

Adjusted EPS for the 13 weeks ended Dec. 30, 2017, totaled 90 cents, below the S&P Capital IQ consensus estimate for normalized EPS of 95 cents.

Net sales at the maker of Maxwell House coffee and Grey Poupon mustard were $6.88 billion, down 0.6% from the sales it posted for the year-ago quarter excluding the effects of foreign exchange. In the U.S., Kraft Heinz's largest geographic division, net sales declined 1.1% on a currency-adjusted basis to $4.79 billion.

Sales volumes of nuts, cheese and cold cuts fell in the U.S. during the quarter, the company said in a statement summarizing its results.

Net income at the company totaled $8 billion, up from the $944 million Kraft Heinz reported for the same quarter during its 2016 fiscal year. Net income during the quarter reflected a benefit from recent U.S. tax reform.

The company said it has planned additional investment in its business as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2017. Kraft Heinz will spend $1.3 billion on pre-funding for employee retirement benefits and $800 million in capital expenditures on quality, safety and capacity improvements, as well as $300 million on changes to its brands and other parts of its business.

Kraft Heinz also reported results for its full 2017 fiscal year. Adjusted EPS for the year totaled $3.55, short of the $3.59 consensus estimate for normalized EPS compiled by S&P Capital IQ.

Net sales for fiscal 2017 were $26.23 billion, down from the $26.49 billion the company posted for its 2016 fiscal year.

"There's no question that our financial performance in 2017 did not reflect our progress or potential," CEO Bernardo Hees said in the company's statement.