ConAgra Foods Reports Higher-Than-Planned Fourth-Quarter EPS

ConAgra Foods, Inc., one of North America's leading packaged food companies, today reported results for the fiscal 2008 fourth quarter ended May 25, 2008. Overall sales grew 15% and diluted EPS from continuing operations grew 38%.

The Consumer Foods segment posted sales of $1.7 billion and operating profit of $167 million for the quarter.

Consumer Foods’ comparable sales growth was 4%, reflecting a 5% increase in net realized pricing and a 1% decrease in volume. Significant net pricing actions for the company’s consumer products were implemented with customers March 24 and thus were in effect for approximately two months of the quarter; future quarters will reflect the full quarterly impact of these price increases.

Operating profit of $167 million was slightly ahead of last year, as reported, and declined 5% on a comparable basis.

During the quarter, sales for the Food and Ingredients segment were $1.2 billion, 32% ahead of last year. Sales for the milling operations grew as higher wheat costs were passed on as higher selling prices.

Segment operating profit was $115 million for the quarter, 9% ahead of year-ago amounts, due to the strong sales results discussed above and a focus on efficiencies.

During the quarter, sales for the International Foods segment were $185 million, 17% ahead of year-ago amounts, largely due to strong performances for popcorn, tomato, canned pasta, and snack products in key markets. The impact of foreign currency exchange rates contributed 7 points of sales growth. Canada and Mexico, the largest geographic markets in the segment, posted strong overall sales growth.

As reported, operating profit of $11 million was 39% below the $18 million earned in the year-ago period, primarily due to $10 million of restructuring costs incurred in the current quarter to improve future operating efficiencies.