Conagra Sales Light, Says on Track With Focus Change

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Conagra Brands Inc. (NYSE: CAG) reported second-quarter fiscal 2017 results before markets opened Thursday. The food processor and packager reported adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.49 on revenues of $2.09 billion. In the same period a year ago, Conagra reported EPS of $0.39 on revenue of $2.36 billion. The latest results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.45 and $2.11 billion in revenue.

The company’s CEO attributed the 11.5% decline in sales to “driving value over volume” as Conagra expands its margins, builds a high-quality base, improves efficiency and delivers stronger, more consistent performance.

In its outlook statement Conagra reaffirmed its fiscal year estimates for a 4% to 5% decline in net sales, gross margin of 30.4% to 30.6%, adjusted operating margin of 15.3% to 15.5%, and adjusted EPS of $1.65 to $1.70.

Conagra completed its spinoff of Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LW) in early November.

CEO Sean Connolly said:

We expect to improve sales growth trends in the second half of the fiscal year as we begin to lap the pricing and trade actions we undertook last year. Accordingly, we are reaffirming the fiscal 2017 guidance we provided at our investor day on Oct. 18, 2016.

Analysts have forecast fiscal year 2017 adjusted EPS at $1.68 and revenues of $7.82 billion, compared with fiscal 2016 EPS of $2.08 and sales of $11.64 billion.

Shares closed down 0.6% on Wednesday at $38.00 and were inactive in Thursday’s premarket. The stock’s $52-week range is $29.55 to $38.93. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $39.50.