Earnings Results: Conagra’s stock turns down as consumer-spending slowdown leads to sales miss

Shares of Conagra Brands Inc. fell toward a more than three-year low Thursday, after the food brands company reported a fiscal first-quarter profit that rose above expectations, while sales fell a bit short amid weakness in its refrigerated and frozen foods business.

The company
with brands including Duncan Hines, Birds Eye, Slim Jim and Hunt’s, swung to net income for the quarter to Aug. 27 of $319.7 million, or 67 cents a share, from a loss of $77.5 million, or 16 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding nonrecurring items, adjusted earnings per share rose 15% to 66 cents, above the FactSet consensus of 60 cents.

Sales inched less than 0.1% lower to $2.904 billion, below the FactSet consensus of $2.951 billion. Price and mix increased 6.3%, but volume dropped 6.6%, “largely due to industry-wide slowdown in consumption and recent consumer behavior shifts,” the company said.

The stock initially jumped as much as 2.3% after the results were released, before reversing course to be down 1.1% in premarket trading. That put the stock to open around the lowest closing price seen since March 2020.

Within Conagra’s business segments, grocery and snacks sales increased 1.2% to $1.2 billion, as price/mix rose 5.6% while volume fell 4.4%. Refrigerated and frozen sales decreased 4.6% to $1.2 billion, as 5.9% rise in price/mix was offset by a 10.5% fall in volume.

International sales rose 11.4% to $260 million, with price/mix up 7.9% and volume up 0.3%.

Cost of goods sold declined 4.7% to $2.08 billion, helping boost gross margin by 3.54 percentage points to 28.3%.

For fiscal 2024, the company reiterated its adjusted EPS guidance range of between $2.70 and $2.75, which surrounds the current FactSet consensus of $2.71.

Conagra’s stock has dropped 21.2% over the past three months through Wednesday, while the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF
has shed 8.4% and the S&P 500 index
has lost 4.1%.


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