Smithfield Foods' CEO Discusses F4Q12 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD)

Q4 2012 Earnings Call

June 14, 2012 9:00 am ET

Executives

Larry Pope – President, Chief Executive Officer

Bo Manly – Chief Financial Officer

Keira Lombardo – Vice President, Investor Relations, Corporate Communications

Analysts

Farha Aslam – Stephens Inc.

Christina McGlone – Deutsche Bank

Ken Goldman – JP Morgan

Ken Zaslow – Credit Suisse

Heather Jones- BB&T Capital Markets

Diane Geissler – Credit Agricole

Christine McCracken – Cleveland Research

Robert Moskow – Credit Suisse

Ryan Oksenhendler – Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Lindsay Drucker Mann – Goldman Sachs

Akshay Jagdale – Keybanc

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Smithfield Foods Fiscal 2012 Fourth Quarter Earnings call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. [Operator instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Ms. Keira Lombardo. Please go ahead.

Keira Lombardo

Thank you. Good morning. Welcome to the conference call to discuss Smithfield Foods’ Fiscal 2012 Fourth Quarter and Full-Year Results. We would like to caution you that in today’s call there may be forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities laws. In light of the risks and uncertainties involves, we encourage you to read the forward-looking information section of the Company’s 10-K for fiscal year 2011. You can access the 10-K and our press release on our website at Smithfieldfoods.com.

On our call today are Larry Pope, President and CEO, and Bo Manly, CFO. This is Keira Lombardo, Vice President of Investor Relations. Larry will begin our call this morning with a review of operations, followed by Bo who will review the Company’s financial results. Then Larry will provide our outlook for the future, after which the line will be opened for questions.

Larry?

Larry Pope

Thank you very much, Keira. Welcome and good morning to all of you on the call. I’m pleased to report another very solid quarter, our fourth quarter of fiscal 2012. This morning we’re reporting 79.5 million or $0.49 a share compared with 98.4 million or $0.59 a share last year. For the year, we’re reporting 361 million or $2.21 versus 521 million or $3.12 last year.

I’m sure you took note of one adjustment affecting this quarter’s results, and Bo will probably speak to that more fully; but we are in the midst of resolving potentially some litigation and we are reversing some charges as a result of insurance settlements for $0.06 a share, so that favorably benefited the quarter. As well, there are some adjustments in last year’s numbers that I think we’ve made that clear in the press release.

This is the Company’s second-best year, second only to last year, so we have had two very good years for the Company and solid quarters, virtually every one of the last eight quarters. From a company and management standpoint, we think this company is in very good shape and in a solid position to deliver going forward.

This quarter, as you can see as you look through the numbers, is all about the pork complex. It’s a combination of both the farms and the fresh pork. Certainly those numbers were down a bit. We did see some weakness in the pork complex in the fourth quarter and it accelerated as we went through the quarter, particularly into March and into April, and as I’ll make in my outlook comments, it has continued into May. So that is really the story behind all of the results and the comparison between the prior year.

We believe pretty strongly that’s the result of some increased hog supplies during this period. Most of you know the hog supply has been up a couple of percentage points. There was some softness in demand, and that’s driven largely, we believe, due to retail spreads as we had this increased supply which kept live hog prices really in line with last year and below where we would have expected them to be. As our pricing went to the retailers, we were not able to see increased volume as we would have expected retail prices to come down; they did not. As such, we did not get the movement through the retail sector that we thought we would have gotten, and so that impacted our press pork results and kept our live hog prices lower than we would have expected.

That being said, some of that is reversing. Bo and I made some comments at the BMO conference that we saw some of that reversing in May. I’ll talk about that a little more in the outlook section, but the fact is it still continued even as we speak until this week to continue to be very soft.

You should be aware, and I hope you took note, of the export shipments. I know there’s a lot of concern out there in terms of what’s happening on the export fronts. The exports are very strong and very robust, and so that is not what’s driving this fresh pork complex and not what’s driving the hog complex. Exports in many countries – and it’s not just a China story or a Japan story or a Mexico story – our export business continues to be very good and I think I’ll make some good comments about that in the outlook section as well.

I think I feel like a bit of a broken record when I talk about packaged meats. It seems like every quarter I’m coming to you, telling you packaged meats had another quarter. Well, I guess I should tape-record the prior quarter and just keep playing it back, guys. This company continues to do extremely well on the packaged meat side of the business, and whether we have high raw materials or low raw materials, our sales and marketing organizations have strengthened dramatically and our programs are working with our retailers and our food service customers. You see the comparison between the quarter at 108 million operating profit compared to 80, and you see for the year even with lower overall results, our packaged meats business is up $50 million from 350 to $400 million, and we’re printing $0.16 a pound for the quarter and $0.15 for the year. We’re right at the very, very top.

I’m going to say it again more than once that I hope you took note that we are raising our guidance. A number of you have asked, have you given consideration to raising your guidance? The answer is yes, we have given consideration, and we believe that our packaged meats business is at the point that we can give you a little better assurance that the future in packaged meats is going to be better.

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