Hormel reports higher earnings, sales

Austin-based Hormel's first-quarter earnings climbed about 18 percent, thanks in part to its acquisition of Skippy peanut butter, as well as a widespread hankering for bacon.

The profit from its refrigerated foods product segment, which includes bacon products, jumped 59 percent. And profit from its grocery products segment climbed 13 percent after the company's $700 million acquisition of Skippy peanut butter from Unilever just over a year ago.

The food producer on Thursday posted net income of $153.3 million, or 57 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Jan. 26. That compares to earnings of $129.7 million, or 48 cents per share, in last year's quarter.

Revenue climbed 6 percent to $2.24 billion.

The performance matched Wall Street expectations, according to a survey by FactSet.


The Austin, Minn., company stuck to its 2014 earnings guidance at a range of $2.17 to $2.27 per share. Analysts expect, on average, $2.25 per share.

Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey M. Ettinger said Thursday the company's refrigerated foods segment "has momentum heading into the second quarter as macro conditions remain favorable."

But, he added, unusually cold weather and higher fuel costs will continue to push up prices for goods in its Jennie-O Turkey Store segment in the second and third quarters. The company backed its full-year earnings guidance.

At the refrigerated-foods business, its largest revenue contributor, sales rose 6.1 percent, helped by higher pork operating margins and strong demand for the company's bacon products.

Grocery-products sales rose 20 percent, but declined 2 percent when excluding Skippy. Profit rose 13 percent.

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