ConAgra income down 12% in first-quarter

by World Grain Staff
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OMAHA, NEBRASKA, U.S. — Hurt by inflation and the promotional environment, income for ConAgra Foods, Inc. fell 12% during the first quarter, the company announced Sept. 21.

For the quarter ended Aug. 29, the company had income of $146.4 million, equal to 33¢ per share on the common stock, which compared with $165.9 million, or 37¢ per share, in the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter were $2.817 billion, down 2% from $2.886 billion during the same quarter of the previous year.

"Our fiscal first-quarter margins and eps (earnings per share) were lower than planned because of an intense promotional environment and inflation that outpaced cost savings," said Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer. "There were, however, several signs of strength in terms of market share and brand sales, demonstrating progress and growth potential for important parts of our portfolio.

"Our plans are to improve the eps performance in the back half of the year through increased contribution from recently introduced new products and recent acquisitions, productivity initiatives and more effective promotional strategies. Our initiatives, as well as lower SG&A expense, are expected to provide meaningful financial offset to the challenges we face. Furthermore, the positive impacts from a higher-quality potato crop are expected to provide increased year-over-year profitability for the Commercial Foods segment, particularly in the back half of the year."

The Consumer Foods segment had an operating profit of $214 million, down 14% from $249.9 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales in the segment were $1.824 billion, down 2% from $1.86 billion.

The Commercial Foods segment posted operating profit of $111.8 million, down 17% from $134.1 million during the same quarter of the previous year. The segment had sales of $993.4 million, down 3% from $1.026 billion.

The company said it now expects its full-year adjusted diluted eps to grow 5% to 7%.

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