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June 18, 2014
11:26 EDTSJM, KRFT, DF, THS, CAGConAgra sinks after cutting EPS outlook for Q4
Shares of packaged foods company ConAgra (CAG) are sinking after the company lowered its fourth quarter adjusted earnings per share outlook below prior expectations. WHAT'S NEW: This morning, ConAgra cut its Q4 adjusted EPS view to approximately 55c compared to its prior view of slightly in excess of 60c per share. The consensus forecast of analysts for Q4 EPS prior to the report was 62c. The lower-than-expected comparable EPS is largely the result of a 7% quarterly volume decline for the Consumer Foods segment, as well as weak profits for the Private Brands segment. Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra Foods, commented," We are disappointed with the Consumer Foods volume performance, which negatively impacted comparable EPS. As we have communicated, we are in the process of improving product mix and promotion strategies in the Consumer Foods segment for better results and greater effectiveness, and we expect our volume performance to improve in fiscal 2015 as a result of this. Given the profit challenges in our Private Brands segment, we are also focused on margin improvement initiatives to offset the impact of pricing concessions. Even though our earnings are below expectations, we exceeded our fiscal 2014 operating cash flow and debt reduction targets." WHAT'S NOTABLE: For FY15, the company expects a year of "'stabilization and recovery" that delivers mid-single-digit comparable EPS growth. The company expects that comparable EPS growth in fiscal 2016 and 2017 will accelerate to a high-single-digit rate as the company benefits from stronger underlying operations, generates sizable productivity and administrative savings and continues to realize substantial synergies from the Ralcorp transaction. The company, which remains committed to a strong dividend policy in the future, plans to continue its current $1.00 per share annual dividend payment. ConAgra said its current profit projections for the Private Brands segment are below original plans for the next several years. ANALYST REACTION: This morning, KeyBanc downgraded ConAgra to Hold from Buy. PRICE ACTION: In late morning trading, ConAgra fell $2.25, or about 7%, to $30.60 on nearly twice its average daily trading volume. Including today's pull back, the stock is down approximately 11% over the past 12 months. OTHERS TO WATCH: Shares of ConAgra peer Dean Foods (DF) are down about 2%, while Kraft Foods (KRFT) is down modestly. The J.M. Smucker Company (SJM) is virtually unchanged and TreeHouse Foods (THS) is down over 1.3%.
News For CAG;DF;SJM;THS;KRFT From The Last 14 Days
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June 19, 2015
14:46 EDTCAGConAgra hits new 52-week high, up nearly 11% after JANA discloses 7.2% stake
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12:29 EDTCAGOn The Fly: Top stock stories at midday
Stocks began the session in quiet fashion and trading has remained that way throughout the morning, despite a lack of a resolution in Greece and a steep slide in China's stock market. The averages spent the morning in negative territory, but the losses have been mild and the indexes have drifted in a narrow range. Of note, today is “quadruple witching,” which can create extra volatility toward the close. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., no major data was reported. The latest count of U.S. oil and gas rigs by Baker Hughes is scheduled for 1:00 pm EDT. In Europe, the ECB held a call on the provision of Emergency Liquidity Assistance to Greek banks and agreed to raise the limit on the emergency funding for the second time in a week, though there were contradictory reports about the size of the increase. Next, the eurozone's heads of government will meet for an emergency summit to discuss Greece on Monday. In Asia, China's Shanghai Composite index closed the session down 6.4%, bringing the benchmark's weekly loss to 13.3% and sending the index into correction territory. The Bank of Japan kept interest rates unchanged and maintained its asset purchases program, as expected. The central bank also said it will reduce the number of its Monetary Policy Meetings to 8 per year from the current 14 meetings, putting it on par with other major central banks. COMPANY NEWS: Shares of ConAgra (CAG) advanced over 8.5% after activist investor Jana Partners reported that it has acquired a 7.2% stake in the packaged foods company. Jana suggested that the company should undertake a strategic review of its strategy and corporate structure to determine if its businesses are optimally positioned to succeed, as well as various potential alternative transactions and structures. Credit Suisse raised its price target on ConAgra to $42 from $34 following the announcement of Jana Partners' involvement, but the firm said ConAgra's enormous debt load from the Ralcorp acquisition limits upside potential from an all-out break up and doubts the board would consider this option. Deutsche Bank similarly said that the firm's sense is that the company's board is reluctant to break up the company's parts. Nonetheless, Deutsche laid out its "optimistic" sum-of-the-parts analysis, which yields a $47 potential value for the stock. The firm, however, raised its price target for ConAgra shares to only $38 from $36 and kept a Hold rating on the name. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was AirMedia Group (AMCN), which gained 42% after announcing receipt of non-binding "going private" proposal for a group led by its CEO to acquire all of the outstanding shares of AirMedia for $6.00 in cash per American depositary share. Also higher was KB Home (KBH), which gained nearly 10% after the homebuilder reported better than expected results for its fiscal second quarter. Among the noteworthy losers was Healthways (HWAY), which sunk 22% after the health management solutions provider lowered its revenue outlook for fiscal year 2015. Also lower following a guidance cut was Hershey (HSY), which fell 4%. The chocolate maker cited growth in China that was below expectations for its lowered outlook and also announced the implementation of a new productivity initiative that will result in the reduction of approximately 300 jobs by the end of 2015. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was down 54.34, or 0.3%, to 18,061.50, the Nasdaq was down 15.23, or 0.3%, to 5,117.72, and the S&P 500 was down 6.64, or 0.31%, to 2,114.60.
10:19 EDTCAGHigh option volume stocks
09:18 EDTCAGOn The Fly: Pre-market Movers
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08:08 EDTCAGConAgra July volatility elevated into Jana Partners disclosing a 7.2% stake
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07:20 EDTCAGConAgra board may be reluctant to a break-up, says Deutsche Bank
After JANA Partners reported an activist stake in ConAgra, Deutsche Bank says its sense is that the board is reluctant to breaking up the company's parts. Nonetheless, Deutsche laid out its "optimistic" sum-of-the-parts analysis, which yields a $47 target for the stock. This includes $27 for the Consumer division, $11 for Commercial, $6 for Private Brands and $3 for the Ardent joint venture. The firm raised its price target for ConAgra shares to $38 from $36 and keeps a Hold rating on the name
07:16 EDTCAGConAgra breakup unlikely, says Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse raised Neutral rated ConAgra's price target to $42 from $34 following the announcement of activist investor Jana Partners' 7.2% stake in the company. The firm said ConAgra's enormous debt load from the Ralcorp acquisition limits upside potential from an all-out break up and doubts the Board would consider this option. Credit Suisse believes the most logical recommendation would be to sell the struggling private label business to TreeHouse for $4B in a tax advantaged structure relieving management from the distraction of turning the business around.
06:46 EDTCAGConAgra price target raised to $44 from $37 at Bernstein
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05:55 EDTCAGStocks with implied volatility above IV index mean; THC CAG
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June 18, 2015
19:00 EDTCAGOn The Fly: After Hours Movers
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17:57 EDTCAGJANA prepared to seek three ConAgra board seats
JANA is prepared, if necessary, to nominate Messrs. Alford, Lawrence and Rosenstein for election to ConAgra's board of directors and to participate in the solicitation of proxies in support of the Potential Nominees. JANA believes that the Potential Nominees possess the necessary expertise, experience and focus on shareholder value to help the Board evaluate and address opportunities for shareholder value creation, including but not limited to: undertaking a strategic review of the company’s strategy and corporate structure to determine if its businesses are optimally positioned to succeed, as well as various potential alternative transactions and structures; addressing the company’s operational performance and cost structure; and optimizing the company’s capital allocation policies and capital structure. JANA has requested, however, that the company delay the June 21 deadline to submit notice of stockholder nominations for the company’s 2015 annual meeting of stockholders in order to give the company and JANA more time to have collaborative discussions regarding the steps JANA believes the company should take to maximize shareholder value, as well as why JANA believes stockholders would benefit from the addition of the Potential Nominees to the Board.
16:59 EDTCAGConAgra says 'looks forward to opening discusssions with JANA'
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16:53 EDTCAGConAgra up 6.1% after Jana Partners reports stake, says company is undervalued
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16:52 EDTCAGJana Partners reports 7.2% stake in ConAgra
Jana Partners acquired the shares because they believe the shares are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity. JANA believes that the company has significantly underperformed in shareholder value creation. Most significantly, the acquisition of Ralcorp Inc. in January 2013, which in JANA’s opinion was the most significant recent strategic decision made by the board, has been followed by disappointing performance for shareholders, repeated guidance misses, negative revisions to long term earnings targets, no dividend per share growth, and operating performance challenges. Issues with this acquisition led to the company taking a $1.3B impairment on March 26, after which JANA began purchasing the shares and analyzing opportunities for improved shareholder value creation. JANA believes that in the period since the Ralcorp acquisition, the board has failed to adequately address the shareholder value destruction and persistent underperformance that followed the Ralcorp acquisition.
June 17, 2015
09:37 EDTDFDean Foods management to meet with Deutsche Bank
Meeting to be held in Boston on June 17 hosted by Deutsche Bank.
June 16, 2015
10:18 EDTCAGOptions with increasing implied volatility
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10:13 EDTCAGConAgra calls active
ConAgra June and July 39 calls are active on total call volume of 13,400 contracts (33 puts). June call option implied volatility is at 39, July is at 34, September is at 28; compared to its 52-week range of 15 to 29. Active call volume suggests traders taking positions for large price
10:06 EDTCAGHigh option volume stocks
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09:22 EDTKRFT, CAGFDA gives food makers three years to remove partially hydrogenated oils
The FDA announced it has finalized its determination that partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS for use in human food. Food manufacturers will have three years to remove PHOs from products. In 2013, the FDA made a tentative determination that PHOs could no longer be considered GRAS and is finalizing that determination after considering public comments. The FDA has set a compliance period of three years. This will allow companies to either reformulate products without PHOs and/or petition the FDA to permit specific uses of PHOs. Following the compliance period, no PHOs can be added to human food unless they are otherwise approved by the FDA. Publicly traded food manufacturers include Mondelez (MDLZ), Kraft Foods (KRFT), General Mills (GIS), Hershey (HSY), PepsiCo (PEP), Kellogg (K), ConAgra (CAG) and Campbell Soup (CPB).
07:42 EDTDFDean Foods management to meet with Deutsche Bank
Meeting to be held in Boston on June 16 hosted by Deutsche Bank.
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