The effort seems to be working for PepsiCo's Frito-Lay business, which posted revenue and volume gains in the third quarter, said the report. But the beverage business, with brands like Pepsi Cola, continued to slump as consumers cut their spending [image-nocss] and continued switching to healthier juices and teas.
Overall, the Purchase, N.Y.-based company said its fiscal third-quarter profit rose 9%, thanks in part to cost cutting, even as revenue slipped 1%.
CFO Richard Goodman said PepsiCo has been offering more promotions at the end of each month, when consumers' budgets become more constrained. For instance, bags of chips may be promoted at two for $5 early in the month but fall to $2 each by the end of the month.
"We want to be able to make sure that at the beginning of the month or at the end of the month, they're buying our products," Goodman told reporters in a conference call after the company released its earnings report Thursday.
Consumers are so focused on cost they are willing to forgo getting more for a given price. PepsiCo's promotion to boost volumewith no price increaseon certain chips failed to gain traction and will be phased out, Goodman said.
Companies in all consumer categories are offering more discounts amid the recession, and they have to be careful not to let that eat into their profits, said Edward Jones analyst Jack Russo. Food companies are able to do this because their ingredient costs have fallen. Russo warned that consumers will keep expecting discounts for a long time. "The challenge is, once you give them a really good deal, so to speak, they'll be expecting that a lot more often," he told AP. "That's the challenge for these companies, getting in the promotional and discounting game but not getting too crazy with promotions."
He said PepsiCo's performance was strong in the quarter and the company was not doing too many promotions.
PepsiCo earned $1.72 billion, or $1.09 per share, in the three months that ended September 5. That's up from the $1.58 billion, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier. But sales slipped 1% to $11.08 billion from $11.24 billion.
PepsiCo's Americas Beverages unit reported a 6% drop in volume and a 9% revenue decline, while Frito-Lay North America had a 3% rise in volume and 5% revenue boost. Quaker Foods North America also posted revenue gains.
Food makers in general have benefited during the recession as strapped consumers eat at home more to save money.
Costs fell faster than revenue at PepsiCo overall, with selling, general and administrative expenses down 8% to $3.65 billion.
PepsiCo expects its $7.8 billion buyout of its two largest North American bottlers to close by the end of 2009 or early 2010.
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