September 22, 2011
ConAgra's profit falls as wheat market dynamics and inflation bogged down quarterly earnings.
Net income in the first quarter ended August 28 was US$85.3 million, equal to US$0.21 per share on the common stock, down 42% from US$146.4 million, or US$0.33 per share, in the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter were US$3.07 billion, up 10% from US$2.80 billion during the same quarter of the previous year.
"Despite a very challenging environment and high inflation, we delivered accelerating price/mix contribution and robust cost savings," said Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer. "The first-quarter eps reflects the negative impact of short-term wheat market dynamics in our Commercial Foods segment and severe inflation in our Consumer Foods segment. We took pricing actions in the first quarter in both of our operating segments, and more pricing actions will soon be implemented in both segments. Our eps goal for the full year remains unchanged."
The Consumer Foods segment had an operating profit of US$196.2 million, down 6% from US$207.7 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales in the segment were US$1.89 billion, up 4% from US$1.81 billion.
ConAgra said several brands posted sales growth during the quarter, including David, Healthy Choice, Hebrew National, Manwich, Marie Callender's, Orville Redenbacher's, Pam, Parkay, Peter Pan, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, Swiss Miss and Wesson.
The Commercial Foods segment posted operating profit of US$97.5 million, down 14% from US$113.1 million during the same quarter of the previous year. The segment had sales of US$1.18 billion, up 19% from US$992.8 million.
"The sales increase largely reflects the pass-through of higher year-over-year wheat costs in the form of higher flour prices for the milling operations, the sales performance also reflects Lamb Weston's price increases, which were necessitated by higher input costs and volume gains. Lamb Weston's price/mix is expected to continue to improve throughout the balance of the year" ConAgra said.
The company said it continues to expect its full-year adjusted diluted eps to grow at a low- to mid-single digit rate over the comparable US$1.75 earned in fiscal 2011.