SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Actions by Tyson Foods, Inc. in the past year position the company for long-term growth, but unanticipated challenges, including a fire at a beef processing plant and grain market volatility, hindered results in the recent quarter. While earnings and sales fell short of analysts’ estimates, shares of Tyson Foods trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 12 closed at $88.88, up 7.4% from the day before and up 68% since the beginning of the year.
“A significant part of our focus in fiscal 2019 was on building for the future,” said Noel W. White, chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, during a Nov. 12 earnings call. “As a result, we’re optimistic about fiscal ‘20 results as we drive for constant improvement. Currently, we expect to meet or exceed our long-term target of high-single-digit adjusted earnings-per-share growth. We also continue to drive innovation, deliver on our customer promise and meet global consumer expectations. We’ll do this while controlling costs and increasing efficiencies.”
Management’s view of fiscal 2020 remains obscured by several factors, including the timing and magnitude of impacts of African swine fever and continuing developments in U.S. trade negotiations.
“The positive impacts we anticipate from African swine fever are still hard to quantify, but here’s what we do know: It’s likely to improve export markets and change protein consumption dynamics for a number of years,” Mr. White said. “We’re well positioned to benefit from A.S.F., but our long-term success is not dependent on A.S.F. or any other one-time events. Tyson Foods is a strong company with a sound strategy and a unique, diversified business model.”
One way the company is diversifying its portfolio is through the introduction of alternative proteins. Launched earlier this year, Tyson Foods’ plant-based Raised & Rooted brand is now available in more than 7,000 retail outlets and has expanded into food service, Mr. White said.
“We have a deliberate go-to-market strategy for alternative protein products,” Mr. White said. “They must taste good, and they must be healthier alternatives to other products already in the marketplace. In 2020, we (will) continue to expand with new products in both the retail frozen and fresh space as well as in food service. Alternative protein projections remain strong, and we’re well positioned to lead in this growing space.”
For the fiscal year ended Sept. 28, net income attributable to Tyson Foods totaled $2,022 million, equal to $5.67 per share on the common stock, down 33% from $3,024 million, or $8.44 per share, from the year before. Profitability was negatively affected by expenses related to the plant fire, increased operating costs, impairment charges associated with divestitures and mark-to-market derivative losses.
Sales of $42,405 million increased 6% from prior-year sales of $40,052 million. Higher sales volume from chicken-related acquisitions and increased pricing of beef and prepared foods products were contributing factors.
Fourth-quarter net income declined 31% to $369 million, equal to $1.03 per share, down from $537 million, or $1.50, in the comparable period. Sales for the quarter advanced 9% to $10,884 million from $9,999 million in the year-ago quarter.
During the earnings call, Mr. White detailed some of the accomplishments Tyson Foods achieved during the fiscal year.
“We expanded our global business with operations in Asia and Europe,” he said. “We continued to innovate our iconic brands, which outpaced the industry. We launched alternative protein products into the marketplace. We’re improving efficiencies by opening new distribution centers. We’re positioning ourselves for the future by integrating our business through a new enterprise technology platform. We continue to invest in advanced analytics as well as the development of automation and robotics with a new technology center here in Northwest Arkansas.”
Additionally, he said, the company continues to move forward with plans to grow its value-added fresh meats business. Recently, Tyson Foods broke ground on a new facility in Eagle Mountain City, Utah.
“The plant will convert fresh beef and pork into steaks, chops, roast and ground beef for grocery meat cases,” Mr. White said. “This additional production will allow us to increase our already growing value-added fresh meat sales. Our growth is enabled by an ongoing financial fitness mindset. We are more focused than ever to drive out costs across the enterprise to enable future investments.”