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solzberg in Gainers & Losers,

ConAgra's stock to continue growth trend

I remain upbeat about the shares of ConAgra Foods, one of the US largest packaged food companies. Recently, the company posted decent financials for its fiscal 2016 fourth quarter ended May 29. Revenues decreased 9.5% y-o-y to $2.83 bn, slightly below consensus estimate of $2.85 bn. The decline reflects the fact that the year-ago period included an additional week, which contributed an estimated 7% to sales and volume performance in results for the fiscal 2015 fourth quarter. Adjusted earnings per share came in at 52 cents and coincided with analysts’ average projection.

ConAgra significantly strengthened its balance sheet. The company exited FQ4 with cash and cash equivalents of $834.5 mn, substantially higher than $164.7 mn recorded at the end of fiscal 2015. Senior long-term debt (excluding current portion) was $4.72 bn, down from $6.69 bn in the year-ago quarter.

In FQ4, ConAgra generated net cash worth $1.06 bn from operating activities, capital spent on additions of property, plant and equipment totaled $429.8 mn. During the reported quarter, ConAgra paid dividends worth $432.5 mn, with the quarterly dividend of 25 cents per share offering a healthy annualized dividend yield of 2.1%.

ConAgra expects to enhance its business through innovations, in turn, boosting shareholders’ value. In order to achieve greater flexibility and operational efficiency, the company has decided to split its more profitable Commercial Foods segment and less profitable Consumer Foods segment into two separate public companies – ConAgra Brands and Lamb Weston – by the end of fiscal 2017. Management also expect that the first quarter of fiscal 2017 will show double-digit comparable year-over-year EPS growth due to a continuation of the productivity, price/mix, and cost discipline initiatives underway, as well as lower interest expense.

I believe ConAgra’s shares are well positioned to continue growth, with medium-term target at $52.