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Kellogg Company (K), Kraft Foods Group Inc (KRFT): Are Investors Worried About ConAgra Foods, Inc. (CAG) Earnings?

ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) will release its quarterly report on Thursday, and investors are anxiously hoping that the company will give them some good news. Even though the stock has fallen substantially in the past month, a boost in ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) earnings could give shareholders something to celebrate and push the shares back toward the highs it set earlier in the summer.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG)ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) isn’t a household name, but its brands are much better known, with offerings including Orville Redenbacher popcorn, Peter Pan peanut butter, and Healthy Choice frozen dinners. Yet as staid as the food business is, competition has ramped up sharply lately. Combined with cost challenges, ConAgra has had to work hard in order to consolidate its past acquisitions and sustain its competitive advantages. Let’s take an early look at what’s been happening with ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) over the past quarter and what we’re likely to see in its report.

Stats on ConAgra

Analyst EPS Estimate
Change From Year-Ago EPS (16%)
Revenue Estimate $4.30 billion
Change From Year-Ago Revenue 30%
Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters 3

Source: Yahoo! Finance. *Based on preannounced adjusted earnings.

Will ConAgra earnings grow faster this quarter?
In recent months, analysts have cut their views on ConAgra earnings, shaving $0.13 per share from both their August-quarter estimates and their full-year fiscal 2014 projections. The stock has behaved somewhat negatively, falling about 6% since mid-June.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) actually came into the quarter on a positive note, reporting solid results in its May quarter. Its acquisition of Ralcorp helped it earn some cost savings, and further measures to try to rein in food cost inflation helped lead to a 3% rise in consumer foods volume even after taking out the impact of the acquisition.

But earlier this month, ConAgra preannounced adjusted earnings for the August quarter, saying they would come in at $0.37 per share. The company cited weakness in its consumer foods segment, with specific difficulty facing some of its retail brands that hurt unit volumes. ConAgra also cut its earnings outlook for the current fiscal year by $0.02 to $0.06 per share, even as it aims to shift its promotional and pricing strategies in order to try to improve performance in its consumer foods business. By contrast, rival Kellogg Company (NYSE:K) has had continuing success with its cost-cutting measures, as it managed to hold off inflationary trends to post higher operating profits.

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