Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE: HRL) yesterday announced a record-breaking financial performance with net earnings and dollar sales at all-time highs for the fiscal year ended October 28, 2000.

The multinational marketer of consumer-branded meat and food products reported total fiscal 2000 earnings of $170,217,000, an increase of 4.1 percent, or $6,779,000, over reported earnings of $163,438,000 for fiscal 1999. Reported earnings per share were $1.20, an increase of $.09, or 8.1 percent, over last year's figure of $1.11.

Total reported earnings for fiscal year 1999 included a one-time gain of $3,808,000 from the sale of land by Campofrio Alimentacion, S.A., Madrid, Spain, a company in which Hormel Foods has an ownership interest. Excluding this gain, the current year's earnings per share reflect a 10.1 percent increase over the prior year.

Dollar sales for the 52-week year were $3,675,132,000. This is a 9.5 percent gain over the previous record high of $3,357,757,000 set last year. Tonnage volume increased slightly from last year's record results.

For the 13-week fourth quarter, total earnings were $60,979,000, a 2.2 percent increase over last year's excellent fourth quarter results of $59,674,000. Earnings per share were $.44, a 7.3 percent improvement from the $.41 a share reported for the concluding quarter of fiscal 1999. Dollar sales for the final quarter were $1,006,181,000, a 5.8 percent increase over fourth quarter dollar sales one year ago of $950,839,000.

All per share amounts have been adjusted to reflect the two-for-one split of Hormel Foods common stock approved by shareholders last January.

Joel W. Johnson, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, said the excellent results provide strong evidence the company's long-term marketing and growth strategies are solidly in place. "Each of the company's core business groups, meat products, foodservice, grocery products, international and Jennie-O Foods, enjoyed record dollar sales. We achieved increased category shares for many of our established, value-added meat and food products and were particularly active in new market introductions that offered new tastes, better values and greater convenience for retail and foodservice customers and consumers," said Johnson.

Among the major, well-known brands of the Grocery Products Division, Hormel chili achieved record tonnage and dollar sales for the year as did Kid's Kitchen microwave meals, the 13th consecutive record year for the Kid's Kitchen line. Hormel Foods sells more chili than the next eight brands combined and is nearing the 50 percent category share mark. The Herdez, Dona Maria and Bufalo Mexican-style foods also recorded new highs in tonnage and dollar sales. The launch of the Carapelli olive oil line is well ahead of plan in terms of distribution and has exceeded category share goals. New and promising product rollouts include SPAM oven roasted turkey, Hormel crispy real bacon pieces, SPAM hot & spicy and Hormel seasoned chunk meats.

The company's Foodservice Division enjoyed another successful year with double-digit increases in total tonnage volume. Fresh pork, including St. Louis-style spare ribs, loin back ribs and boneless pork, contributed to the excellent overall performance. Always Tender fresh pork, Bread Ready presliced meats, cooked beef, cooked hams and premium buffet hams, including Cure 81 ham and Fleur de Lis ham, showed strong brand growth. The Austin Blues Bar-B-Que line of fully prepared and hickory smoked beef and pork products is gaining wide acceptance with foodservice operators. Business and industry accounts are particularly pleased with the variety of product offerings and the ability to offer popular and authentic barbecue selections without the added capital expense of cooking equipment. The introduction of Hormel Select chili with beans, Hormel Select chili no beans and Mary Kitchen Select corned beef hash, products that have historically enjoyed considerable success among retail customers, is showing good growth prospects in foodservice since their recent market debut.

The Meat Products Division ended fiscal 2000 with record sales dollars and tonnage volume results. It also concluded the year with record category share for Black Label bacon and Hormel pepperoni. Introduced as an extension of the Always Tender flavored pork line were a peppercorn and teriyaki filet of sirloin and Italian and grill flavored beef filets. Distribution of the Hormel fully cooked entrees was extended into the eastern, southern and midwest markets. The continued success of this line led to the introduction of four barbecue products, seasoned and sliced pork or beef and shredded beef or shredded pork, co-branded with the Famous Dave's of America restaurant chain.

Jennie-O enjoyed record dollar sales for the year with foodservice up more than 17 percent and retail sales eight percent. In Jennie-O's major value-added categories, turkey bacon, turkey franks, turkey pan roasts, turkey breakfast sausage and turkey burgers also demonstrated good increases in volume sales, share and distribution. Aggressive efforts in new product development led to the introduction of preportioned turkey medallions and cutlets; breaded, boneless and cooked turkey strips and fries; marinated and seasoned shredded turkey, and barbecued turkey ribs, all for foodservice operators.

For Hormel Foods International (HFI), consolidated tonnage volume rose significantly as many of the company's domestic brands continued to gain increased recognition and distribution in markets around the globe. China, Japan, Micronesia, South Korea, Canada and the Asia-Pacific region all experienced double-digit volume growth. SPAM luncheon meat sales grew worldwide, aided by a 60 percent category share in Korea, as well as the introduction in selected overseas markets of SPAM hot & spicy flavored with Tabasco brand pepper sauce and SPAM oven roasted turkey. Other products that performed particularly well were Stagg chili, Hormel pizza toppings and Kid's Kitchen shelf-stable entrees.

Hormel Foods news releases and other investor and company information are available on the internet at www.hormel.com. This press release contains forward-looking information based on management's current views and assumptions. Actual events may differ. Please refer to the Cautionary Statement Relevant to Forward-Looking Statements and Information which appears on Exhibit 99 of the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended October 30, 1999, which can be accessed at http://www.hormel.com.