* Q2 sales $2.17 bln vs. est. $2.22 bln
* Q2 adj. profit 91 cents/shr vs. est. 88 cents
* Q2 C-Fresh unit sales down 8 pct (Adds comments from the conference call; updates shares)
Feb 17 (Reuters) - Campbell Soup Co reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales on Friday, hurt by weak demand for its V8 beverages, broth and condensed soups, sending its shares down 8 percent.
The fall was Campbell’s biggest intraday percentage loss in more than eight years, after the world’s largest soupmaker also said it did not expect sales to rise in its C-Fresh unit, which sells carrots and beverages, in fiscal 2017.
Campbell’s fresh foods business has been struggling in part due to a premature harvest that led to smaller carrots last spring, which resulted in loss of business, the company said in September.
“It’s taking longer than we originally expected to regain carrot customers, following last year’s quality and customer service issues,” Chief Executive Denise Morrison said on a conference call on Friday.
Sales from Campbell’s fresh foods business, which accounted for about 12 percent of total revenue in the second quarter ended Jan. 29, fell 8 percent.
The company said revenue fell 1 percent in the Americas simple meals and beverages unit, Campbell’s largest segment, which includes its namesake soup brand and Prego pasta sauces.
However, the company’s sales of soup in the United States rose 1 percent in the quarter, helped by strong demand for its ready-to-serve soup brands, such as Chunky and the new Well Yes!, but was offset by declines in broth and condensed soups.
Campbell also said it would relaunch its Protein PLUS beverage merchandising only in the fourth quarter, as it is yet to ramp up capacity to meet demand for the beverage.
The company, which also sells Pepperidge Farm snacks, reported a 1.4 percent fall in net sales to $2.17 billion. Analysts on average had expected $2.22 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net income attributable to Campbell fell to $101 million, or 33 cents per share, in the quarter, from $265 million, or 85 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company took a non-cash charge of $147 million to reduce the value of assets in its Bolthouse Farms’ carrot business and a non-cash charge of $65 million in its Garden Fresh unit.
Excluding certain items, the company earned 91 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of 88 cents per share.
Campbell’s stock was down 6.5 percent at $58.49 in late-morning trading. (Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D‘Couto)