General Mills (GIS) raised its annualized dividend by 9% to $1.88 from $1.72 per share, earlier. The quarterly dividend increased by 4% to $0.47 and is payable on August 3, 2009, to shareholders on record as of July 10, 2009.

The dividend increase is a testimony of the company’s robust financial health, confidence in its key growth strategies and excellent growth prospects, going forward.

GIS reported strong fourth quarter and full year 2009 results. The company’s U.S. retail unit, which includes Pillsbury baking products and Green Giant Frozen vegetables, posted a strong 12% increase. In addition, core brands such as Yoplait and Big G cereals also posted double-digit revenue increase.

GAAP earnings almost doubled to $1.07 per share versus $0.53 in the comparable prior-year quarter of 2008, while excluding certain one-time items, earnings were $0.86 per share (increasing 17.8% year-over-year).

In addition, the company had raised its guidance twice during fiscal 2009. Further, on the basis of its strong performance in 2009, management provided a strong outlook for fiscal 2010, and expects earnings to be in the range of $4.20 to $4.25 per share (annual earnings for fiscal 2009 were $3.80 per diluted share.

Sara Lee (SLE) also posted 13.6% higher earnings for the latest reported quarter on a year-over-year basis (y-o-y). However, revenues during the quarter contracted due to significant declines across its operating segments and adverse foreign exchange impact.

Kraft Foods (KFT) also posted 2.3% higher earnings y-o-y during the latest reported quarter, but revenues declined 6.6% y-o-y primarily due to unfavorable impact of foreign currency and divestitures.
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