PITTSBURGH: H J Heinz, maker of the iconic tomato ketchup, has reported a rise in first quarter net profits to $194.1 million (€151.4m; £101.9m) from $157.3m in Q1 a year ago. Sales increased 8.4% to $2.06 billion.

Its North America division posted strong results with 13% sales growth, while the company's traditionally weaker European performance improved. Its Weight Watchers and Classico brands were among those driving improvements.

Heinz is currently wrestling with interventionist shareholder Nelson Peltz who is hoping to win several seats on the board and thereby shoehorn a more aggressive cost-cutting plan [WAMN: 17-Aug-06].

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff