(Adds analyst estimates, background)
Sept 28 (Reuters) - Conagra Brands Inc, which makes Reddi-Wip whipped cream and Chef Boyardee pasta, reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, as it earned higher margins after limiting discounts.
The company’s sales also edged past analysts’ expectations, as it introduced products with fewer artificial ingredients to attract customers moving away from packaged foods and toward fresh foods that are seen as healthier.
To boost profits, Conagra has been selling off underperforming brands and raising prices on popular products such as Banquet’s frozen meals, which were previously sold at $1.
Net income attributable to the Conagra fell to $152.5 million or 37 cents per share in the first quarter ended Aug. 27, from $186.2 million or 42 cents per share, a year earlier.
Profit was dented as Conagra paid more to slot brands such as PAM and P.F. Chang’s Home Menu at more supermarkets.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned 46 cents per share, besting analysts’ average estimate of 40 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales fell 4.8 percent to $1.80 billion, hurt by weak demand for Conagra’s grocery and snacks products. Analysts had expected $1.79 billion. (Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)