ConAgra Swings to 4Q Loss on Private Label Weakness

By EarningsFOXBusiness

ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG) unveiled red ink in the company’s fourth quarter, swinging to a loss amid significant write-downs and lower revenue.

The maker of packaged foods had already cut its outlook for the latest period. Weak results in the private-labels segment and a drop in consumer foods volume weighed on ConAgra’s bottom line.

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ConAgra said Thursday it posted a loss of $324.2 million, or 77 cents a share, compared to a profit of $192.2 million, or 46 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding $681 million in charges and other one-time items, adjusted earnings slipped to 55 cents a share from 60 cents, meeting ConAgra’s forecast.

Revenue was down 2.8% at $4.44 billion. Wall Street analysts expected $4.4 billion. Gross margin fell to 20.4% from 21.1%, while input costs decreased 2% to $3.53 billion.

ConAgra, which makes Hunt’s ketchup, Chef Boyardee pasta and other products, became the nation’s top private-label food maker when it acquired Ralcorp for $4.95 billion last year. But the business has been slow to meet ConAgra’s expectations for profit growth.

In the period ended May 25, the private-labels unit booked an operating profit of $44 million, down $60 million year-over-year.

Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra anticipates per-share earnings to reflect a mid-single-digit increase in the new fiscal year. The company recorded a profit of $2.17 a share in the prior year. Analysts are looking for earnings growth of 6%.

Shares climbed 1.3% to $29.11 in recent trading. ConAgra is down roughly 13.6% on the year.