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ConAgra Posts 4Q Loss

Thu, 06/21/2012 - 9:52am

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — ConAgra Foods Inc. reported a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter, weighed down by a charge related to pension accounting changes. But its adjusted earnings and revenue topped Wall Street's expectations as did its fiscal 2013 earnings forecast.

ConAgra's shares gained 20 cents to $24.80 in premarket trading on Thursday.

The packaged food company, whose brands include Banquet, Marie Callender's and Healthy Choice, reported a net loss of $86.2 million, or 21 cents per share, for the period ended May 27. That compares with net income of $250.1 million, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier.

Removing the pension-related charge and other items, earnings from continuing operations were 51 cents per share.

This topped the 50 cents per share that analysts polled by FactSet predicted.

Revenue increased 6 percent to $3.41 billion from $3.21 billion, topping Wall Street's estimate of $3.4 billion.

The consumer foods unit, which made up 63 percent of its fiscal 2012 sales, reported a 6 percent increase in fourth-quarter sales. The division benefited from acquisitions and higher prices.

Like many food companies, ConAgra is dealing with higher costs for ingredients, packaging and fuel and has raised its prices to help offset those increases.

Brands with higher sales in the quarter include Chef Boyardee, Manwich, Peter Pan and Slim Jim.

Sales for the commercial foods unit climbed 7 percent due to higher volumes for the Lamb Weston potato operations and the flour miller operations and increased prices.

For the year, the Omaha, Neb., company's net income fell to $467.9 million, or $1.12 per share, from $817.6 million, or $1.88 per share, in the previous year. Annual revenue rose 8 percent to $13.26 billion from $12.3 billion.

ConAgra expects fiscal 2013 adjusted earnings will rise 6 percent to 8 percent. This implies $1.95 to $1.99 per share.

Analysts forecast earnings of $1.92 per share for the year.

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