General Mills (GIS) reported that its fourth-quarter net earnings fell and that costs could rise by 9% in the current fiscal year, which might eventually catch up to the food and beverage exchange traded fund (ETF).

Blame the rising cost of energy and commodities, which is continuing to have a ripple effect that’s leaving nothing untouched. The earnings per share were 20 cents lower than analysts had been expecting, reports Brad Dorfman for Reuters.

At least if misery loves company, General Mills has lots of it. While wheat, corn, oil and gas become more expensive, it isn’t just hitting the big-name brands – everyone is trying to find ways to cope:

  • Kellogg (K) is shrinking the size of its packages sold in the United States, after having raised prices in January, reports the Canadian Press.
  • Chiquita Brands (CQB) saw their shares lost more than 25% of their value after the company said it would report "significant losses" in the third quarter, says Matt Adrejczak for MarketWatch.

General Mills, for its part, has raised prices and found other ways to cut costs. For fiscal 2009, the company expects sales to grow at a mid-single-digit rate.

Relief shouldn’t be expected anytime soon, since the head of the United Nation’s food agency has warned that prices aren’t going to come down, the Associated Press says. Part of his solution involves increasing production.

General Mills is one of the top components of the PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage (PBJ) fund, with 5.3% of the holdings. Kellogg is 4.8% of the fund, and Chiquita is 3.1%. It’s down 6.9% year-to-date.


The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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