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Post 2Q performance misses analysts' estimates

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Cereal maker Post Holdings' fiscal second-quarter net income fell 59 percent as it paid more in interest and its prices dropped.

Its quarterly performance missed analysts' expectations. Shares dropped in Monday morning trading.

For the period ended March 31, Post — whose cereal brands include Honey Bunches of Oats and Grape-Nuts — earned $4.3 million, or 13 cents per share. That compares with $10.5 million, or 30 cents per share, a year earlier.

Removing spinoff-related costs and other items, earnings were 19 cents per share. Post was previously owned by Ralcorp Holdings Inc. The store-brand food maker spun Post off last year to focus on its core business.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of 27 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Shares of Post fell $1.67, or 3.5 percent, to $45.45. Over the last year, the stock has traded in a range of $27.33 to $47.80.

Quarterly interest expense climbed to $21.6 million from $15.1 million.

Revenue for the St. Louis company dipped slightly to $248.2 million from $250.5 million, hindered by a 4 percent decline in average selling prices. This was somewhat offset by increased volumes.

Wall Street predicted $254.4 million in revenue.

On Thursday Post Holdings Inc. announced that it was buying the branded and private label cereal, granola and snacks business of Hearthside Food Solutions for $158 million, partly as a way to broaden its presence in the cereals category.

The deal, which is expected to close by June, will give Post access to brands such as Golden Temple, Peace Cereal, Sweet Home Farm and Willamette Valley Granola Co. as well as the private-label granola business of Hearthside.