ConAgra Foods saw its revenues rise 4.8% for its most recent quarter versus a year ago, but its stock fell 3% as the forecast for the coming fiscal year trailed analysts' projections.
For fiscal 2009, ConAgra has predicted earnings of between $1.56 and $1.59 per share, and between 26 cents and 28 cents per share for the first quarter. But the earnings are below the expectations of analysts, who predicted $1.61 per share for fiscal 2009 and 32 cents per share for the first quarter.
Still, CEO Gary Rodkin said he was satisfied with ConAgra's sales for the quarter, which grew 16% to $3.1 billion for the fourth quarter ended May 25, the company announced. ConAgra's earnings also rose 5% to $201.3 million, or 41 cents per diluted share. The company attributed the growth to recent price increases, new product introductions and cost saving initiatives.
The Consumer Foods division posted gains of 6% to $1.7 billion for the quarter. But the greatest windfall came from the Food and Ingredients division, which posted a sales increase of more than 30% to $1.2 billion.
"I'm pleased with this Consumer Foods performance, where profits showed good sequential improvement, due to our pricing actions," said Rodkin in a conference call, adding that brands including Chef Boyardee, Hebrew National, Hunt's, Orville Redenbacher and Snack Pack performed particularly well. "We implemented pricing across 95% of the Consumer Foods portfolio, and this happened toward the end of March . . . [which] of course helped to defray some of the intense input cost inflation we've been experiencing."
New products, including Healthy Choice Caf