LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

Continue Reading Below

Kroger Shares Fall on Profit Drop -- 3rd Update

Kroger Co.'s profit fell sharply as the nation's largest supermarket chain slashed prices and invested in technology to keep up with rising competition among grocers.

The Cincinnati-based company said sales turned positive in its second quarter ended Aug. 12 and affirmed its profit view for the year. But Kroger's decision to suspend long-term earnings guidance spooked investors, and offered another sign of the grocery industry's volatile outlook. Kroger shares fell nearly 10% on Friday.

Kroger's profit of $353 million in its fiscal second quarter was down 8% from a year earlier, while adjusted net earnings per share plunged by 18%. The company confirmed full-year earnings guidance of $1.74 to $1.79 a share.

USDA Expected to Snip Crop Production Forecasts

Continue Reading Below

Analysts expect federal forecasters to trim their estimates for this season's corn and soybean harvest.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected Tuesday to forecast U.S. soybean production of 4.32 billion bushels, down from 4.38 billion in August, along with a corn haul of 14 billion compared with 14.15 billion a month earlier.

Soybean yield is expected at 48.7 bushels per acre, versus 49.4 in August, with corn down to 167.8 from 169.5.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Hedge Funds Increase Pessimism on Corn Prices -- Market Talk

16:31 ET - Hedge funds ramped up bets that corn prices would fall this week, according to CFTC data. Money managers extended their net short position in corn futures and options by 69% to 109,723 futures and options as of Tuesday, the regulator said. The increasing pessimism came amid a slew of government and private sector forecasts over the last month that showed the crop overcoming early weather troubles to produce another bumper harvest later this year. Large speculators also increased their net short position in wheat by 12% while cutting their soybean net short by almost 60% to 11,944 futures and options. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

Chipotle Raising Prices As Customers Trade Down -- Market Talk

13:05 ET - Chipotle (CMG) has indicated that 75% of its lapsed customers have traded down to fast food chains, where the average check is about 50% lower, according to Cowen. That has Cowen questioning the wisdom of CMG's planned 5% price increase over the next few quarters. Consumer perception of CMG's quality following a series of disease outbreaks in 2015 remains low, a Cowen survey shows, leading the investment firm to view CMG's sales recovery as a long, slow road. "CMG's historic brand differentiation was in quality, which we expect to remain challenged as a proliferation of smaller fast casual concepts have collectively implemented a similar 'food with integrity' playbook with different cuisines," notes Cowen, which downgrades the stock on Friday to underperform from market perform. (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Climb to Multiweek High

Cattle futures rose to a three-week high despite ongoing pressure in cash and meat markets.

Live cattle futures for October delivery rose 1% to $1.07325 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday, the highest close since Aug. 16.

Many are betting that cash prices for slaughter-ready cattle are bottoming. Most sales this week have been at $1.03 a pound live and $1.63 a pound dressed, down a couple of cents from last week. Still, analysts expect prices to stabilize as cattle supplies ease during the remainder of this year.

CASH MARKETS

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Sep 8

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Sep 8 +$44.05 +$45.53

Sep 7 +$42.74 +$47.34

Sep 6 +$43.26 +$49.25

Sep 5 +$42.94 +$51.98

* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production.

A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of production of the animals.

Beef-O-Meter

This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite

values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices.

Beef

For Today Choice 100.6

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 103.4

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Friday fell 25 cents per hundred pounds, to $191.88, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 19 cents per hundred pounds, to $189.97. The total load count was 153. Wholesale pork prices fell 84 cents, to $81.58 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 08, 2017 17:52 ET (21:52 GMT)