ConAgra Foods, Inc. reported results for the fiscal 2013 fourth quarter ended May 26, 2013. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations was $0.45 for the fiscal fourth quarter, up significantly from $(0.21) in the year-ago period. Excluding $0.15 per diluted share of net expense in the current quarter, and $0.72 of net expense in the year-ago period, from items impacting comparability, current-quarter diluted EPS from continuing operations of $0.60 was 18 percent above the comparable $0.51 earned in the year-ago period.
Diluted EPS from continuing operations for the full fiscal 2013 was $1.85 as reported, up 65 percent over the $1.12 earned in fiscal 2012; after adjusting for items impacting comparability in the current and prior year, fiscal 2013 diluted EPS from continuing operations was $2.16, up 17 percent over $1.84 earned last fiscal year. Items impacting comparability in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2012 are summarized toward the end of this release and reconciled for Regulation G purposes on page 12.
Gary Rodkin, ConAgra Foods’ chief executive officer, said, in a prepared statement, “We are pleased to have driven a 17 percent increase in comparable EPS for fiscal 2013, and to have posted comparable year-over-year consumer foods volume growth in the fiscal fourth quarter as planned. Today we provided our current view of our strong near-term and long-term EPS growth potential, taking into account an increase in expected synergies from the recent Ralcorp transaction, as well as the benefit of our ongoing innovation, marketing, and margin management initiatives. We are confident in our strategy and our ability to execute it. After the strong fiscal 2013 performance from the commercial foods segment, we will be dealing with some profit headwinds related to that segment in fiscal 2014, and we expect to manage through these and still post very good EPS growth for the fiscal year. As we look to the longer term, given the opportunities ahead of us, we expect to grow comparable EPS by at least 10 percent per year from fiscal 2015-2017; this is expected to result in five consecutive years of double-digit EPS growth, and EPS in excess of $3.00 per share in fiscal 2017.”
Consumer Foods Segment
Branded and non-branded food sold in retail and foodservice channels.
The consumer foods segment posted sales of $2.3 billion and operating profit of $291 million for the fourth quarter, as reported. Sales increased 7 percent, reflecting 5 percent contribution from acquisitions, 3 percent organic volume growth, and (1 percent) unfavorable impact from a combination of price/mix.
- Brands posting sales growth for the quarter include Banquet, Hebrew National, Hunt’s, Marie Callender’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, PAM, Peter Pan, Ro*Tel, Rosarita, Wolf, and others. More brand details are in the Q&A document accompanying this release.
- In the fourth quarter, the company lapped the significant pricing taken last fiscal year in response to severe input cost inflation. This, along with the marketing investments made in recent quarters, favorably impacted the fourth-quarter volume performance.
Operating profit of $291 million increased 8 percent from $270 million in the year-ago period, as reported. After adjusting for $4 million of net expense in the current period, and $18 million of net expense in the year-ago period, from items impacting comparability, current-quarter operating profit of $295 million increased 3 percent over $288 million in the year-ago period. The comparable profit growth reflects the segment’s overall sales growth, strong cost savings which more than offset minimal input cost inflation, increased incentives, and an increase in marketing investment. As previously mentioned, the marketing increase is part of the company’s commitment to investing in its brands for the long term.
Commercial Foods Segment
Specialty potato, seasonings, blends, flavors, and milled grain products sold to foodservice and commercial channels worldwide.
Sales for the commercial foods segment were $1.3 billion, 4 percent above year-ago period amounts. Segment operating profit was $156 million, 13 percent above year-ago period amounts.
All major product lines posted sales growth. The segment’s strong profit growth in the quarter was largely the result of good performance for the flour milling operations, which increased volumes, drove favorable price/mix, and posted strong results for grain and byproduct merchandising. While the Lamb Weston potato operations posted good sales and profit performance domestically, softness in key Asian markets continued to weigh on international results, driving a modest operating profit decline for Lamb Weston overall.
For this segment in fiscal 2014, the company is currently preparing for the formation of Ardent Mills, into which the company expects to contribute its milling operations. The details of that transaction were announced on March 5, 2013. While the company expects approximately $0.03 of EPS dilution shortly after the formation of the venture, over the long term, the venture’s profit growth is expected to be accretive to ConAgra Foods’ EPS. Pertaining to the Lamb Weston potato operations, a major foodservice customer did not renew a sizeable amount of potato business, and this will negatively impact segment profits in fiscal 2014. The company expects to gradually reallocate that production and service capacity to other customers. The company currently estimates that fiscal 2014 diluted EPS will be negatively impacted by approximately $0.06 to $0.07 due to this transition at Lamb Weston.