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Private Brands Hit ConAgra in Third Quarter

01 April 2015

US – US meat and food processing giant ConAgra Foods has reported a diluted loss per share from continuing operations of $2.23 for the third quarter of the year.

This has been put down to a significant impairment charge against a diluted EPS of $0.52 as reported for the third quarter of 20140.

After adjusting for items impacting comparability, comparable diluted EPS was $0.59 this quarter and $0.62 in the period a year-ago.

Gary Rodkin, ConAgra Foods’ chief executive officer (pictured), said: “We are pleased with the performance of our Consumer Foods segment and our domestic Commercial Foods business, as well as the robust efficiencies we are generating across the company.

“Our Private Brands segment, however, is significantly below expectations; we are in the midst of implementing initiatives to improve execution to drive better performance starting in fiscal 2016.”

He added: “Given my upcoming retirement from ConAgra Foods, I would like to thank all of our shareholders for their interest, encouragement, and support over the last nine years as we have significantly transformed the company.

“Over these years, our team made significant strides culturally, organisationally, operationally, and in the marketplace, generating consistently strong cash flow and putting us in a good position to capitalise on the next set of opportunities. I am very excited that Sean Connolly will be the company’s next CEO, and I look forward to watching the company’s progress under his leadership.”

Consumer Foods Segment

The Consumer Foods segment posted sales of approximately $1.8 billion and operating profit of $274 million.

Sales declined by two per cent, with flat volume, a one per cent decline in price/mix, and one per cent negative impact from foreign exchange.

Operating profit of $274 million was three per cent above year-ago amounts as reported.

After adjusting for $8 million of net expense in the current quarter and $4 million of net expense in the year-ago period from items impacting comparability, current quarter operating profit of $282 million increased 5% over comparable year-ago amounts.

Advertising expense declined by approximately $20 million, reflecting a continually increasing focus on efficiency and return on investment, as well as a timing shift in which some spend has been moved from the fiscal third quarter into the fiscal fourth quarter.

Commercial Foods Segment

Sales for the Commercial Foods segment were $1 billion, up one per cent compared to a year ago.

Segment operating profit was $145 million, 18 per cent up on a year ago.

The current quarter operating profit increased by four per cent.

Private Brands

Sales for the Private Brands segment were $1 billion in the quarter, down five per cent on a year ago, reflecting seven per cent lower volume.

Overall volume declines for most major product lines - pasta, cereal, snacks, condiments, and in-store bakery - more than offset some growth in nutrition bars.
The segment posted an operating loss of $1.3 billion, due to an impairment of goodwill and other intangible assets.

Comparable operating profit fell in all by 44 per cent.

Outlook

The company now expects fiscal 2015 diluted EPS, adjusted for items impacting comparability, to be in the range of $2.15-$2.19.

The company now expects operating cash flow to approximate $1.55 billion, slightly below the prior forecast of $1.6 billion; the revision reflects higher inventory levels due to certain crop-based inputs and higher raw material costs.

The company continues to expect to reduce debt by a total of $1 billion in fiscal 2015, thereby completing its broader debt reduction goals for the fiscal 2013-2015 period.

 

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