Update: Hormel up in 2011, down for 4th quarter

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hormel Foods Corp. is down slightly for the quarter but way up for the year.

While Hormel’s fiscal fourth-quarter net earnings slipped 3 percent from last year, its fiscal 2011 net earnings jumped 20 percent over 2010.

“I am proud of the team for finishing an outstanding year with a fourth quarter that met our expectations,” said Jeff Ettinger, Chairman, CEO and President of Hormel Foods, in a news release.

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Hormel recorded fiscal 2011 net earnings of $474.2 million, or $1.74 per share, compared to $395.6 million last year, or $1.46 per share. Net earnings for the 2011 fourth quarter (a 13-week period ending Oct. 30) was $117.3 million, or 43 cents per share, down from $121.1 million last year, or 45 cents per share, although there was one less week in the current quarter and year.

“For the quarter, we are pleased to have generated segment profit increases in four out of five segments and an overall net sales increase,” Ettinger said in a release. “Our tonnage was down in comparison with the 14 week quarter last year, but we held our own on volumes in the face of significant pricing actions.”

The company continues to see growth, as its annual net earnings have increased for the third consecutive year. Net earnings in 2010 had a 15 percent jump from 2009’s $342.8 million.

Profits for Hormel’s refrigerated foods segment — which accounts for 52 percent of the company’s net sales — declined 19 percent for the quarter, the only of the five segments to drop. Hormel attributes the decline to lower pork operating margins and higher commodity input costs.

The performance still topped Wall Street’s view and Hormel gave earnings guidance for 2012 above analysts’ expectations.

The results beat the 42 cents per share that analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast. Its earnings per share were adjusted to account for a 2-for-1 stock split in December 2010.

Revenue edged up 2 percent to $2.1 billion from $2.06 billion, but missed Wall Street’s $2.13 billion estimate. Annual revenue increased 9 percent to $7.9 billion from $7.22 billion.

The Jennie-O Turkey segment — which comprises 20 percent of net sales — recorded a 4 percent increase in profit for the quarter. The continued sales growth of value-added products and improved efficiencies throughout the supply chain and operations offset higher feed costs during the quarter, according to a Hormel news release.

Ettinger, in a conference call Tuesday morning, said the Jennie-O segment has good momentum going into 2012.

“The team is doing a great job of overcoming steep cost increases that will continue into next year,” he said. “Efficiency gains in operation and a strong advertising campaign also helped support value added sales growth, and we seem to have good momentum going into next year.”

Hormel’s biggest increase came in its specialty foods segment. The segment — which makes up 11 percent of net sales — boasted operating profits this quarter 12 percent higher than last year. Hormel attributes the increase to sales improvements on bulk and nutritional items and higher sales of private label canned meats.

Hormel’s grocery products segment saw a profit increase of 3 percent this quarter. The grocery segment makes up 13 percent of net sales.

Driven by stronger fresh pork exports, Hormel’s “all other” segment — which is mostly made up of Hormel Foods International — recorded profit gains of 3 percent from last year’s quarter. That segment makes up 4 percent of net sales.

Hormel anticipates 2012 earnings in a range of $1.79 to $1.89 per share, although analysts expect earnings of $1.77 per share for the year.

Ettinger said in a statement that Hormel expects its grocery products, specialty foods and the division with the international business to drive its fiscal 2012 profit growth. He cautioned that comparisons will likely be more difficult in the first half of the year, getting more favorable later in the year.

“We expect to deliver sales and earnings growth in fiscal 2012, even amidst some difficult comparisons and less-than-favorable macro conditions,” Ettinger said in the release.