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Conagra Stock Wavers as Earnings Beat and Sales Slip

Conagra raises its full-year outlook for organic net sales, saying it now expects growth of about 1%.

Conagra Brands  (CAG) - Get Conagra Brands, Inc. Report wavered Thursday after the packaged-food giant reported a drop in first-quarter sales but still beat Wall Street's expectations.

Shares of the Chicago company, which owns such brands as Bird's Eye, Slim Jim, and Reddi-wip, at last check were up 0.2% to $34.55.

Conagra reported net income of $235.4 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with $329 million, or 67 cents a share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings came to 50 cents a share, ahead of the FactSet analyst consensus of  48 cents. 

Sales totaled $2.65 billion, down from $2.68 billion a year earlier but still beating FactSet's call for $2.54 billion. 

Among other things, the company cited the sale of its H.K. Anderson, Peter Pan peanut butter and Egg Beater businesses and a 0.4% decrease in organic sales.

Net sales for the grocery and snacks segment decreased 4.9% to $1.1 billion.

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Adjusted operating profit decreased 26% to $220 million, the company said, driven mainly by cost-of-goods inflation, the organic net sales decline, and other factors.

Conagra and other companies have raised product prices in recent months to offset higher costs of raw materials, including edible oils, sugar and coffee, amid a resurgent U.S. economy, according to Reuters.

The company raised its full-year outlook for organic net sales, saying it now expects growth of about 1%, compared with its previous forecast of about flat with the year earlier.

"We continue to experience ongoing inflationary pressure," Sean Connolly, president and CEO, said in a statement.

But the company expects "sustained elevated consumer demand" and the company's current and planned efforts will enable Conagra to deliver its adjusted earnings-per-share guidance for the year, he said. 

Connolly added that the company plan "has positioned us well to continue capturing the benefits of the consumer-behavior shifts driven by the Covid-19 pandemic."