Conagra gets a profit boost from frozen foods sales and fewer discounts

Earnings


Conagra reported third-quarter profit above market estimates and raised its full-year profit forecast as the maker of Reddi-Wip whipped cream cut back on its deep discounts and benefited from sprucing up its frozen food business.

Conagra’s shares were up 1.2 percent at $35.75 before the bell on Thursday.

The company’s frozen foods business has been boosted by the acquisition of Sandwich Bros, which makes frozen breakfasts, and by refreshing brands such as Banquet’s frozen meals to offer protein-rich products with fewer artificial ingredients.

Net sales in Conagra’s frozen food business rose 3 percent to $689 million in the quarter. But, total sales inched up to $1.99 billion from $1.98 billion, due to declines in the Chicago, Illinois-based company’s grocery and snacks business.

A near 6 percent drop in selling and general expenses and a $236.7 million benefit related to U.S. tax reforms helped the company’s profit more than double.

Net income attributable rose to $362.8 million, or 90 cents per share, in the quarter ended Feb. 25, from $179.7 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Conagra’s profit of 61 cents per share topped analysts average estimate by 5 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company raised its full-year forecast for adjusted profit from continuing operations to $2.03 to $2.05 per share from $1.95 to $2.02.

Conagra had raised its profit forecast last month to account for a boost from the U.S. tax reforms.



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