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Kraft: Earnings Rise, Exceed Forecasts

First-quarter earnings at Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT)  rose 1.8% to $813 million, compared to $799 million in 2011, while revenue increased 4.1% to $13.09 billion.

Adjusted EPS was 57 cents, up from 52 cents during the same time last year.

That narrowly beat analysts who expected adjusted EPS of 56 cents and revenue of $13.05 billion, Reuters said.

Kraft shares were off slightly in Friday afternoon trading.

Gross margin fell to 35.6% from 36.9%, mostly due to rising commodity costs, which were up 6.2%.

The company reiterated its outlook of 9% earnings growth and a 5% revenue incease for 2012.

Sales in every geographic area increased, with Europe seeing a 7.2% jump in organic sales, while North American sales moved up 3% and sales in developing markets rose 11.5%. A late Easter this year boosted candy sales.

Later this year, Kraft will split into two companies. The North American business will retain the Kraft name, while snack food and candy operations in developing markets will be run under the name Mondelez International.

In litigation filed against Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) over a failed partnership, the company said it is demanding $2.9 billion in damages, including attorney fees.

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