BOSTON — Several “discrete challenges” during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 led Tyson Foods, Inc. to reduce its adjusted earnings per share guidance to $5.30 to $5.70. A month earlier, when the company announced its third-quarter results, management maintained its earlier guidance of $5.75 to $6.10 per share. Issues affecting performance include weakness in its Chicken business unit, grain market volatility and a fire at a beef processing plant.
Speaking Sept. 4 at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples conference in Boston, Noel W. White, president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, elaborated on the guidance reduction, saying the adjustment in guidance amounted to approximately $220 million.
“So, the $220 million was made up of about half poultry adjustment, so a little over $100 million, which represented right at 50%, and then the other, there’s about 30% that is made in the mark-to-market adjustment,” he said. “We wrote-up some rate derivatives into Q3. Since then, grain has come down sharply. So, this is a reversal of what we wrote-up in Q3.
The other 20% includes overall market volatility during August that affected Tyson’s Prepared Foods business unit and the fire at the beef plant.
“For the most part, it was extremely unusual to have that number of events within one quarter,” Mr. White said. “Typically, we’ll have some things that will happen during a quarter and we can overcome them. The fact that we had a number of events on the same quarter present particular challenges.”
Mr. White said several chicken-related recalls during the quarter are affecting Chicken business results.
“We, in fact, slowed our line speeds down, our production volumes, to make sure that the product that we were producing and shipping, was the safest possible,” he said. “That came at a pretty significant cost.”
He added that corrective measures were taken to get plants back to full production and that several management changes within the Chicken business have been made to get it back on track.
During the presentation, Mr. White was pressed on the 40c range in the new guidance, which was questioned as being wide.
“Because there is still a great deal of volatility,” he said. “If grains would adjust from where they are currently, that could have an impact on our e.p.s., whether they go up, whether they go down. So, we still have roughly 5 weeks, 4.5 weeks before the end of the quarter, and that’s impossible to predict what the derivatives might do.
“The other is the markets. We think we have a good handle on where the markets are. However, there has been tremendous volatility in some of our material markets.”
Looking ahead, Mr. White said the impact of African swine fever in China, which has led significant reductions in the Chinese hog herd, will be felt in fiscal 2020.
“I don’t know if that’s going to be our Q1, which is October, November, December; or Q2,” he said. “But any time that there’s that amount of protein that is lost from a global perspective, there is going to be an impact on price.”