Shares in Campbell Soup Co. rose sharply this morning after the Camden food manufacturer predicted that its fiscal 2007 earnings per share will incease by 10 to 12 percent, well above the previous projection of 5 to 7 percent.

At around 11 a.m., Campbell's shares were at $42.11, up $2.53, or 6.39 percent, from yesterday's close on the New York Stock Exchange.

Campbell said it's second-quarter sales were $2.52 billion, up 4.3 percent from $2.16 billion in the same quarter last year.

Net income climbed to $285 million, or 74 cents per share, up from $254 million, or 61 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding unusual items in both years, including this year's $14 million gain on the sale of a Pepperidge Farm plant in Connecticut, Campbell's earnings per share were 68 cents, above the range of analysts expectations.

Campbell's second quarter - from November through January - is closely watched by analysts because it captures the beginning of the traditional soup season.

The company's total U.S. soup sales were down 1 percent in the quarter. Chief executive Douglas R. Conant said retailers added less to their inventories than they normally do in the second quarter, possibly because of the winter's mild start.

For the first half of the fiscal year, however, soup sales were up a healthy 4 percent, helped by new reduced sodium soups and Select Gold Label soups that are sold in boxes instead of cans, the company said.

Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.