Kraft Foods chief executive Irene Rosenfeld has issued a robust defence of the company’s performance after the US food group raised its predicted pay-out for shareholders.

Kraft said it anticipates earnings per share upwards of $2, an increase from earlier indications of $1.97, in an update today.

Rosenfeld (pictured) claimed the increase reflected strong operating gains as well as a significant increase in marketing investments compared to the previous year.

“As we complete our turn-around, we’re delivering high-quality earnings growth, despite the difficult economic environment,” said chairman and chief executive Irene Rosenfeld.

“As a result, we’re well positioned to deliver sustainable top-tier performance, with or without Cadbury,” she said, adding that Kraft was continuing to invest in its brands and businesses.

The move comes after Cadbury yesterday boosted its chances of seeing off Kraft;’s bid by revealing profits of more than £1bn for 2009. Profit margins at the dairy milk maker also improved, from 12% to 13.5%.