Hormel products
Hormel saw strong sales of SPAM, Skippy, Wholly Guacamole and Justin’s specialty nut butters.

AUSTIN, MINN. — Hormel Foods Corp. delivered record sales and earnings in the recent quarter, but the company’s grocery business remains “a mixed bag,” said James P. Snee, president and chief operating officer. Segment profit was flat, as strong sales of SPAM, Skippy and Wholly Guacamole and the addition of Justin’s specialty nut butters were offset by increased advertising expenses, acquisition costs and weakness elsewhere in the packaged foods portfolio.

Overall, net earnings attributable to Hormel Foods Corp. in the third quarter ended July 24 were $195,654,000, equal to 37c per share on the common stock, up 33% from $146,938,000, or 28c per share, in the prior-year period. Net sales advanced 5% to $2,302,376,000 from $2,188,587,000.

Looking ahead, Mr. Snee said the company feels positive about the grocery business going forward.

Jim Snee, Hormel
James P. Snee, president and c.o.o. of Hormel

“From a sales perspective or brand perspective, clearly very pleased with the work the team did on continuing to grow the SPAM franchise,” he said during an Aug. 18 earnings call with financial analysts. “The Skippy business, the introduction of Skippy P.B. bites continues to go well. Our Mexican foods portfolio also continues to perform well.

“As we mentioned, we did have some increased advertising cost, but that’s, from our perspective, a positive to support the ongoing and future brand growth. And there’s no doubt, we have a couple areas in the unit that are work in process. The chunk meats category, which is not a huge part of the portfolio, but that’s become competitive, and our team is working on really taking a different approach with the product offerings that we have there. Again, we talked about Compleats being down, and we’re working very strategically to expand the availability of some of the value tier offerings and really increasing the sales or unit rates.”

For the second quarter, Grocery Products operating profit was flat at $53,344,000, with volume up 1% and dollar sales up 3% at $388,094,000.

Hormel Compleats
Hormel Compleats sales were down during the quarter.

“Our Grocery Products team continues to deliver exciting and innovative new products, such as Skippy P.B. Bites and Herdez Guacamole Salsa,” Mr. Snee said. “Both recently introduced products are exceeding our expectations in the marketplace.”

Refrigerated Foods operating profit increased 24% to $120,702,000, with volume up 3% and dollar sales up 9% at $1,155,297,000, benefitting from the addition of the Applegate business, favorable market conditions and strong results from the food service business.

Jennie-O Turkey Store operating profit climbed 59% to $56,147,000, with volume up 29% and dollar sales up 20% at $403,953,000, as production volumes returned to normalized levels during the quarter, enabling food service and deli to deliver volume, sales and margin gains.

Hormel Jennie-O Turkey products
Jennie-O Turkey Store operating profit climbed 59% to $56,147,000.

Specialty Foods operating profit declined 13% to $27,089,000, with volume down 32% and dollar sales down 25% at $212,197,000, reflecting the impact of the divestiture of the Diamond Crystal Brands business. International and Other operating profit rose 5% to $131,587,000, with volume up 10% and dollar sales up 5% at $20,308,000, reflecting solid exports of fresh pork, Skippy and SPAM.

“As a result of a strong third-quarter performance, one-time gains from various discrete tax events, and continued confidence in our business, we are raising our full-year guidance from $1.56 to $1.60 per share to $1.60 to $1.64 per share,” Mr. Snee said. “And our early look into (fiscal year 2017) shows us once again growing sales and earnings.”