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ConAgra Foods, Inc., (NYSE: CAG) one of North America’s leading food companies, today reported results for the fiscal 2014 first quarter ended Aug. 25, 2013. Diluted EPS from continuing operations was $0.33 as reported for the fiscal first quarter, down 46% from $0.61 in the year-ago period. Excluding $0.04 per diluted share of net expense in the current quarter, and $0.17 of net benefit in the year-ago period, from items impacting comparability, current-quarter diluted EPS from continuing operations of $0.37 was 16% below the comparable $0.44 earned in the year-ago period. Items impacting comparability are summarized toward the end of this release and reconciled for Regulation G purposes on page 10.
Gary Rodkin, ConAgra Foods’ chief executive officer, said, “Our first-quarter Consumer Foods volumes were lower than planned due to category and customer challenges. We are revising our merchandising and promotion plans to improve our volume, and we have already begun additional SG&A cost management initiatives that should improve EPS performance as the fiscal year progresses. We still expect to post good EPS growth this fiscal year, and we are confident in our long-term EPS growth and cash flow outlook as the sizeable synergies from Ralcorp are achieved over the next few years.”
Consumer Foods SegmentBranded and non-branded food sold in retail and foodservice channels.
The Consumer Foods segment posted sales of approximately $2 billion and operating profit of $186 million, as reported. Sales declined 2% as reported, which includes 2% contribution from acquisitions, a 3% organic volume decline, and a 1% decline in price/mix. The sales performance largely reflects difficult conditions for some of the company’s customers, as well as weak results for some categories (including frozen foods) negatively impacted by competitor promotional activity. Significant slotting and promotion related to new product launches weighed on price/mix; that level of concentrated, up-front investment will not be repeated this fiscal year. The company is in the process of revising its merchandising and promotion to improve volumes as the year progresses.
Brands posting sales growth for the quarter include ACT II, Egg Beaters, Hunt’s, Reddi-wip, Rosarita, Swiss Miss, Van Camp’s, Wesson, and others. More brand details are in the Q&A document accompanying this release.
Operating profit of $186 million declined 21% from $236 million in the year-ago period, as reported. After adjusting for $2 million of net expense in the current period, and $7 million of net expense in the year-ago period, from items impacting comparability, current-quarter operating profit of $189 million (rounded) decreased 22% from $243 million in the year-ago period. The comparable profit performance reflects the weak sales performance as well as significant marketing investment in support of new product introductions. These new-product-related investments for the quarter totaled $26 million ($16 million of costs netted against sales, and $10 million in marketing classified as SG&A). Cost savings more than offset modest input cost inflation. The company expects operating profit comparisons to improve in the second half of the fiscal year given a more favorable inflation environment, increasing SG&A cost savings, and improved volume.