May 4, 2017 / 12:45 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Kellogg's quarterly profit beats on tax benefit, lower costs

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(Adds details, shares)

May 4 (Reuters) - Cornflakes maker Kellogg Co reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as continuing cost cuts and a planned tax benefit boosted earnings.

Shares of the company, which also makes Pop-Tarts and Fruit Loops, were up marginally before the bell on Thursday.

The world's largest cereal maker has been battling weak sales as shoppers prefer healthier options over its processed food offerings.

Kellogg launched the "Project K" restructuring program four years ago in a push to drive profit by cutting jobs and optimizing production.

Net income attributable to Kellogg rose to $262 million, or 74 cents per share, in the first quarter ended April 1, from $175 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

The planned tax benefit resulted in a 14 cent benefit to the company's adjusted profit per share.

Excluding items, Kellogg earned $1.06 per share, beating analysts' estimate of 99 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales fell 4 percent to $3.25 billion, its ninth straight quarterly drop. (Reporting by Jessica Kuruthukulangara and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Supriya Kurane)

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