ConAgra Beats Estimates, Talks About Separation

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ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) reported first-quarter fiscal 2017 results before markets opened Thursday. The food processor and packager reported quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.61 on revenues of $2.67 billion. In the same period a year ago, ConAgra reported EPS of $0.41 on revenue of $2.79 billion. First-quarter results compare also to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.48 and $2.73 billion in revenue.

In its outlook statement, ConAgra said it continues to expect to complete a separation that it first announced last November in the fall of this year. The split will result in two companies, Conagra Brands and Lamb Weston.

The separation is structured as a tax-free spin-off of the Lamb Weston business. The two new companies will host investor events in the month of October to “share more details, including fiscal year 2017 and longer-term outlooks, growth initiatives, efficiency programs, and capital allocation priorities.”

CEO Sean Connolly said:

We continue to make strong progress as we reshape our portfolio, capabilities, and culture. Our efforts to infuse focus and discipline into our consumer businesses are clearly enabling us to expand our margins as we build a higher quality revenue base, improve efficiency, and deliver stronger, more consistent performance. While we are taking broad-based actions to build a higher quality revenue base, the related volume declines are concentrated in brands where we have historically under-priced and over-promoted.

I’m very pleased with the outstanding performance of the Lamb Weston business this quarter. We look forward to sharing more detailed information on Lamb Weston and Conagra Brands at each company’s respective investor event next month.

Shares traded up about 2% in Thursday’s premarket, at $44.00 in a 52-week range of $37.97 to $48.81. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $50.60.