The company, based in Thomasville, Georgia, published results showing an 8.2 percent increase in sales for the period ending April 21. Sales were worth $609.9 million during the first quarter of 2007 compared to $563.6 million for the same period last year. Net income increased by 24.3 percent, reaching $28.5 million, or $.46 per diluted share, compared to the $22.9 million, or $.37 per diluted share, reported for the first quarter of fiscal 2006. "Our team again executed well on our operating strategies and achieved record results in the quarter," said George Deese, chairman, CEO and president of Flowers Foods. "During the quarter, we started production on our new bread line in Newton , North Carolina , continued our sales growth in new geographic markets and offset our higher costs through pricing actions we took in 2006." The company decided to increase average prices by 6.4 percent during the quarter. The increase was slightly greater at 6.6 percent for the bakeries group, where sales grew 8.8 percent. The bakeries group also experienced a unit volume increase of 2.6 percent, thanks mainly to the purchase of Derst Baking Company in February 2006, which contributed incremental sales of $7.2 million. A price increase of 6.3 percent helped boost specialty group sales by 6.1 percent, though the company said the group's sales were negatively impacted by a decline in unit volume of 4 percent, primarily due to a decrease in store brand snack cake. The overall price gains helped to offset the growth in production costs, namely double-digit increases for flour, gluten and sweeteners. The company also appeared to avoid any negative effects from the scare over contaminated wheat gluten. Flowers Foods recently issued a statement reassuring customers that the wheat gluten it used in its bread came from suppliers in Europe and Australia and was not therefore concerned by the recall of pet food containing contaminated wheat gluten from China. The company said the first quarter results confirmed its prior fiscal guidance for 2007. It therefore expects sales, excluding any future acquisitions, to be between $1.983 billion and $2.040 billion, a potential increase of 5-8 percent on the previous year's sales. The company anticipates a net income of between 4 - 4.4 percent of sales, or $81 million to $87 million, as compared to $74.9 million in fiscal 2006. Deese said the confirmation of the company's previous guidance took into account expected commodity cost increases over the remainder of the 2007 financial year.