Strong quarter boosts full-year profit at ConAgra

by World Grain Staff
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OMAHA, NEBRASKA, U.S. — Higher food prices and an insurance settlement contributed to a more than doubling in fourth-quarter income at ConAgra Foods, Inc., leading to a full-year profit increase of 13% for the Omaha-based company.

For the year ended May 29, the company had income of $817 million, equal to $1.90 per share, which compared with income of $725.8 million, or $1.63 per share, during the previous year. Sales for the year were $12,303.1 million, up 2% from $12,014.9 million during the previous year.

For the fourth quarter ended May 29, net income was $254.9 million, or 62¢ per share, up 181% from $90.6 million, or 20¢ per share, in the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter rose 5% to $3,210 million from $3,047.5 million. During the fourth quarter ConAgra recorded a $105 pre-tax gain in connection with its settlement of property and business interruption claims related to the June 2009 explosion at the company’s Slim Jim manufacturing plant in Garner, North Carolina, U.S.

“Overall marketplace and economic conditions remain challenging, as our Consumer Foods segment incurred 9% cost inflation this quarter,” said Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer. “We are, however, demonstrating progress in some key areas of our business. Net pricing has begun to improve in Consumer Foods sales, cost savings are on track, and Lamb Weston and flour milling operations are delivering stronger results for our Commercial Foods segment. High input costs and difficult economic conditions are expected to continue to create challenges in fiscal 2012; additional pricing actions are under way, and productivity initiatives should continue to be strong.

“Despite the challenging circumstances, we expect our overall fiscal 2012 to show low- to mid-single digit eps growth, adjusted for items impacting comparability; we remain committed to our long-term eps growth goal of 6-8% annually.”

For the year the Consumer Foods segment had an operating profit of $1.144.3 billion, up 3% from $1.1 billion during the previous year. Sales for the segment were $8 billion, up 1% from $7.93 billion during the previous year. Fourth-quarter operating profit in the segment rose 63% to $367.3 million from $225.8 million, while sales increased 1% to $2.02 billion from $2.01 billion.

The Commercial Foods segment had an operating profit of $504.6 million in the full year, down 6% from $538.6 million during the previous year. Sales for the segment were $4.3 billion, up 6% from $4.07 billion during the previous year. Fourth-quarter operating profit in the segment was $127.3 million, up 14% from $111.3 million in the same period a year ago. Sales rose 15% to $1.18 billion from $1.03 billion.
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