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Hillshire Brands Reports Full Year Earnings Above Guidance Range; Raises Dividend And Announces Plans To Repurchase Shares

Discussion of Continuing Operations Results

In the fourth quarter, net sales of $962 million were down 2.1% versus the prior year's fourth quarter. Consistent with the company's expectations, adjusted operating income decreased 23.2% to $63 million. The lower operating income was driven by the sales decline and planned investments in brand building and innovation. Reported operating income increased to $49 million from a loss in the prior year. Adjusted earnings per share decreased 16.1% to $0.26, and reported earnings per share increased to $0.28 from a loss of $0.52 in the prior year.

For fiscal year 2013, adjusted and reported net sales of $3,920 million were up 0.4% and down 1.0%, respectively, versus the prior year. Adjusted operating income increased 12.5% to $363 million, as the benefits of lower input costs and efficiencies were partially reinvested in MAP. Reported operating income increased 290.7% to $297 million. Adjusted earnings per share increased 18.6% to $1.72, and reported earnings per share increased to $1.49 from a loss in the prior year.
 
1 The term “adjusted diluted EPS” and other financial measures identified as “adjusted” are explained and reconciled to comparable GAAP measures at the end of this release.
 

Retail

Retail net sales declined 3.8% in the fourth quarter versus the prior year. Operating segment income declined 32.3% from the prior year's comparable quarter. This lower operating income was driven by the sales decline and planned investments in brand building and innovation.

Jimmy Dean, which has performed well all year, had another strong quarter, growing both volume and sales behind increased MAP and innovation. Breakfast sandwiches continued their strong growth driven, in particular, by Jimmy Dean Delights. The Ball Park brand also had a good quarter, growing share in hot dogs and delivering continued growth in flame grilled patties. Additionally, Aidells continued to grow behind successful new product launches, including multiple varieties of chicken meatballs.

However, sales gains were more than offset by a material change in inventory levels at a large retail customer during the quarter, the anticipated softness in Hillshire Farm lunchmeat, and pricing investments in certain categories.

During the quarter, the company successfully addressed the Hillshire Farm manufacturing issue related to the new lunchmeat package. Customer service is now back to normal levels and promotional activities have resumed.

For the full year, Retail segment sales were up 0.3% versus the prior year with Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Aidells, and Gallo all showing positive growth behind increased MAP spend. Operating segment income for the year increased 5.5% over the prior year driven by input cost favorability.

Foodservice/Other

Net sales increased 2.7% from the prior year's fourth quarter. Although the macro environment remains challenging, core foodservice sales grew in the quarter behind double-digit increases in convenience stores and high-end desserts. Commodity turkey sales also contributed to the increase in the quarter. Operating segment income decreased 13.5% behind higher SG&A and MAP.

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