PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston: 'We don't see any sign of a consumer slowdown' in the US

PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston said Tuesday that the snack and beverage giant still thinks the consumer economy is strong.

“In the United States right now, we don’t see any sign of a consumer slowdown,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street. “

Consumer spending in April and May rose moderately, according to the Commerce Department. However, consumer confidence last month dropped to its lowest level in nearly two years.

Johnston pointed to relatively neutral gas prices year over year as one “particularly positive” sign for consumer spending.

“When that’s the case, consumers generally feel better about themselves,” he said.

Looking to the rest of the world, Johnston pointed to the Middle East, Brazil and western Europe as regions that present a challenge. But with low interest rates globally, he said, the consumer economy will likely continue to be strong around most of the world.

Earlier on Tuesday, executives told analysts on the quarterly conference call that the company was not seeing any signals that the consumer was slowing down.

An executive from another consumer packaged goods company, General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening, echoed Johnston’s confidence later on Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.”

“I would say in the U.S. the consumer environment is quite good,” Harmening said.

Harmening said that General Mills’ business in China and Brazil is growing, despite concerns about those countries’ economies, while Europe poses the biggest challenge because of Brexit uncertainty.

Shares of Pepsi were basically flat in trading Tuesday after the company reported better-than-expected earnings before the bell. The Cheetos maker topped analysts’ estimates for its second-quarter earnings and revenue.

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The company reaffirmed its fiscal 2019 outlook Tuesday. Pepsi expects organic revenue to grow by 4% and adjusted earnings per share, assuming constant foreign currency exchange rates, to decline by 1%.


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