US food maker Sara Lee Corporation, has said net sales for its second quarter ending January 1 were $5.2bn, up 4% on the same time last year.

For the first six months of the financial year sales were $10.1bn, a 4% increase on last year.

Bakery was a strong sectors for Sara Lee, while household products and meat saw lower profits, mainly due to higher raw material costs.

“Despite retail pricing pressure in Europe and challenging commodity costs, Sara Lee delivered earnings per share in line with our expectations for the quarter. Operating segment income rose in our Bakery and Branded apparel businesses, but was offset by softness in the other lines of business,” said Steven McMillan, chairman and chief executive office of Sara Lee Corporation.

The company also announced it is exploring a sale of its European clothing business Courtaulds, which it bought in 2000 for $230m (£122.6m).

Courtaulds sells private label clothes to Marks & Spencer and the company is expected to have sales of $1.8bn for the 2005 financial year. However, weak spending in Europe and at M&S have affected its sales.