Conagra Misses Third-Quarter Estimate but Sees Higher Demand in Q4

Conagra misses the third-quarter consensus estimate but sees higher demand in the fourth quarter. And it expects to exceed its prior full-year guidance.
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Conagra  (CAG) - Get Report shares jumped after the packaged-foods company reported that it missed analysts' third-quarter estimates but is seeing a fourth-quarter bump in demand from the coronavirus effect on consumer buying habits. 

The company did not provide new full-year estimates but did say that it expects to exceed its prior guidance. 

For the third quarter ended Feb. 23, the Chicago company earned an adjusted 47 cents a share compared with the consensus analyst estimate of 49 cents in a FactSet survey. Sales fell 5.6% to $2.56 billion, compared with the consensus $2.58 billion.

In mid-February, Conagra shares had dropped after the company cut its full-year guidance following weak orders from restaurants and generally soft retail sales. The company cut its full-year adjusted-earnings estimate 4% to $2.04 a share. 

"While we are still early in our fourth quarter, we have seen significantly elevated demand for our retail products as consumers have started filling their pantries for more at-home eating," Chief Executive Sean Connolly said in a statement.

"On a quarter-to-date basis, shipments and consumption in our domestic retail business have increased" by about half, more than offsetting the effect of "worsening trends in our food-service business." 

The company also said its integration of Pinnacle Foods is proceeding, with each of the company's big three brands delivering sequential in-market improvement. Conagra completed the acquisition of Pinnacle in October 2018. 

The company saw a 3.2% decline in international third-quarter net sales to $221 million.

Sales in the refrigerated-and-frozen segment declined 1.6% in the quarter. 

At last check Conagra shares rose 4.9% to $29.60.