Fiscal ’17 Hormel’s 2nd most profitable; Company announces merger of Grocery Products, Specialty Foods segments

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hormel Foods Corp. had the second most profitable year in the company’s history, even though annual sales, at $9.2 billion, were down 4 percent, according to its full fiscal year 2017 and fourth quarter results report.

The Austin-based food company on Tuesday morning announced its full-year earnings, a dividend increase and the merging of its Grocery Products and Specialty Foods segments.

“This morning we announced a 10 percent increase to our annual dividend, making the new dividend (75 cents) per share,” said Jim Snee, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer. “This is the 52nd consecutive year in which we’ve increased our dividend.”

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Effective Nov. 15, the company paid its 357th consecutive quarterly dividend at the annual rate of 68 cents per share.

In the report’s executive summary for the fiscal year, Hormel reported

• Three of five segments delivered record segment profit.

• Volume was down 8 percent, but organic volume is up 2 percent. Organic volume refers to the volume of product produced due to within the confines of the base business, and not to changes resulting from external sources, such as mergers and acquisitions.

• Diluted earnings per share finished at $1.57, down 4 percent from 2016’s $1.64.

• The 14 percent operating margin is a record as is the $1.01 billion cash flow from operations of $1.01 billion, up 2 percent.

“We delivered a quarter of strong organic volume and sales growth despite the volatile commodity markets,” Snee said. “I am proud of our

team’s ability to navigate the many unique market conditions we faced while staying focused on our key strategic initiatives.”

A trio of acquisitions — Columbus Manufacturing, Inc., Fontanini Italian Meats and Sausages and Cidade do Sol — and new products such as fully cooked bacon and Skippy PB Bites, will contribute to “a return to growth” in fiscal year 2018, Snee said.

“The earnings power we are creating with acquisitions, major capital investments in value-added capacity, a supply chain reorganization, the union of the Grocery Products and Specialty Products segments, and an intense focus on strategic cost management sets us up for renewed earnings growth in 2018 and beyond,” he said.

“We expect Refrigerated Foods, Grocery Products, and International (sigments) to drive growth as Jennie-O Turkey Store continues to navigate difficult industry conditions,” Snee added.

Hormel expects between $9.4 billion and $9.8 billion in net sales for fiscal 2018. Its earnings per share guidance is $1.60 to $1.70.

These guidance figures exclude the pending acquisition of Columbus Craft Meats, which is expected to close in December, according to the report. Total sales are about $300 million and the transaction is expected to add 2-3 cents per share due to increased earnings in the next year.

Hormel’s Specialty Foods segment has been merged into its Grocery Products segment and will continue to be led by Luis Marconi, group vice president, Grocery Products. The primary focus of the segment is on delivering a strong branded portfolio of leading products to the evolving retail environment of food, drug, mass, club and E-commerce, a Hormel news release said.

“I am confident that the consolidation of these two segments will deliver revenue and cost synergies in all aspects of the business

“The Grocery Products segment will be a model for strategic management of iconic brands such as the Spam family of products and

Skippy peanut butter products, while also nurturing the continued growth of franchises like Wholly Guacamole dips, Muscle Milk protein products and Justin’s nut butters.”

4th Quarter Segment Highlights

Grocery Products: The segment profit is up 7 percent. Wholly Guacamole dips, the Spam family of products, and Herdez salsas all showed strong sales growth. Skippy peanut butter and Hormel chili experienced volume declines as price increases took effect during the quarter. Segment profit increased as reductions in manufacturing and SG&A expenses more than offset higher input costs for pork, beef, and avocados.

Refrigerated Foods: The segment profit is down 13 percent. Volume and sales declines were related to the divestiture of the Farmer John business, which were partially offset by the acquisition of Fontanini Italian Meats and Sausages. Retail items such as Hormel Natural Choice products and foodservice items such as Hormel Bacon 1 fully cooked bacon and Hormel pepperoni contributed to the organic sales growth. Segment profit declined due to the divestiture of the Farmer John business and higher input costs.

Jennie-O Turkey Store: The segment profit is down 24 percent. Decreases in sales and earnings were primarily due to the continued oversupply in the turkey industry, leading to lower turkey commodity prices. Jennie-O Oven Ready products and marinated tenderloins delivered excellent sales growth.

International and other: The segment profit is up 18 percent. International sales increased due to the inclusion of sales of Ceratti branded products, continued growth of Skippy peanut butter, and strong exports of Spam luncheon meat. Earnings growth was driven by improved performance in China and increased exports.

Specialty Foods: The segment profit is down 21 percent. Sales and earnings declines were mainly related to lower results from Muscle Milk ready-to-drink protein products in the convenience store channel.