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Kraft Heinz, the packaged-food company behind household brands like Jell-O and Heinz ketchup, said on Wednesday that its fourth-quarter sales decreased less than feared and that it expects to push through deeper cost cuts.

The company’s shares slid 1 per cent in extended trading after it said sales fell 3.7 per cent from a year ago to $6.85bn in the three months ending in December, ahead of analysts’ expectations of $6.7bn. Sales fell the most in Europe, dropping 13.3 per cent year-on-year to $600m.

Sales were impacted by a strong US dollar and from an extra week of shipments last year. Organic net sales rose 1.6 percent versus the year-ago period.

Profits surged to $944m, or 77 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $285m, or 23 cents a share, in the year ago period. Adjusting for one-time items, earnings of 91 cents topped analysts’ estimates of 87 cents.

The company –which came together in a $100bn deal orchestrated by Warren Buffett and Brazil’s 3G Capital in 2015 — has been focused on cutting costs. It aims to save $1.7bn annually by 2018, up from its previous goal of $1.5bn.

“Looking forward, our objectives and opportunities are clear,” said chief executive Bernardo Hees. “But we need to sharpen our focus on profitable sales, and further improve our capabilities and execution to deliver another year of strong, sustainable growth in 2017.”

Shares were up 4.3 per cent so far this year following a 20 per cent advance last year.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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