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ConAgra Foods Announces Fiscal 2014 EPS Below Plan, Reduces EPS Goals; Non-Cash Impairment Charges Recognized With No Impact On Comparable EPS; Fiscal 2014 Debt Reduction Goal Exceeded; Commitment To Strong Dividend Reaffirmed

Stocks in this article: CAG

Quarterly operating profit for the Private Brands is expected to show a comparable year-over-year decline of approximately $60 million. While the majority of the profit shortfall was driven by pricing concessions previously discussed, cost challenges associated with integration and business transition also weighed on profit performance. The company remains highly confident in the long-term growth opportunities for the Private Brands segment given the company’s strong value-added capabilities that will be leveraged in the years ahead, the fundamental appeal of private brands to consumers, and the strategic importance of private brands to the retail customer base.

Based on the challenges in the Private Brands segment in fiscal 2014 and the gradual nature of the anticipated recovery from fiscal 2014 earnings levels, the company’s current profit projections for the Private Brands segment are below original plans for the next several years, despite continued expectations for achievement of strong cost-related synergies in line with original plans.

These revised profit projections, as well as expectations for continued profit challenges for some retail brands (primarily Chef Boyardee), have resulted in an estimated $681 million of non-cash impairment charges in the fiscal 2014 fourth quarter. These non-cash charges, most of which relate to the Private Brands segment, reduce the amount of goodwill and other intangibles on the company’s balance sheet, and the resulting non-cash expenses will be treated as items impacting comparability. The revised profit projections for the applicable segments have been taken into consideration in the fiscal 2015-2017 EPS growth expectations cited earlier in this release.

The company notes that it generated in excess of $1.5 billion of cash from operations and repaid approximately $600 million of debt during fiscal 2014, exceeding targets for the fiscal year. The company is confident in its ability to meet its fiscal year 2015 debt repayment goals as well. The company will provide more financial and operating details on the current quarter performance, and future EPS outlook, with its regularly scheduled earnings release on June 26, 2014.

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