Leading US packaged food company ConAgra yesterday (22 December) published its results for the second quarter of the 2006 fiscal year, ending 27 November 2005, revealing that profits for this quarter are down on last year’s figures.

Second-quarter diluted EPS was US$0.31. Of this, $0.07 per share consisted of expense from items that impact comparability, such as primarily asset impairment charges and accelerated recognition of benefits in connection with the shift of key executives. Excluding that figure, second-quarter diluted EPS was $0.38. This is down on last years figure of $0.46.

Profit from the food ingredients segment, representing 18% of year to date company sales, totalled $53m, down from $79m in the year-ago period. Operating profit for the food products segment, which constituted 23% of year to date company sales, was $87m in the second quarter, down from $93m in the same period last year.

Gary Rodkin, president and CEO of ConAgra Foods, said: “The current quarter profit shortfall indicates that our fundamentals need to be much stronger. Strengthening the fundamentals will be aggressively pursued but will take a fair amount of time; however, there are opportunities for short-term improvement through better execution, and we will not hesitate to take actions that have clear benefits. To that end, we recently announced organisational changes that will simplify our operating structure and better align our managers with the initiatives that improve execution and effectiveness.”

Looking forward, the company expects that some of the factors negatively impacting the second quarter likely will continue into the second half of fiscal year 2006.

“While dependent upon various factors, the company’s internal plans are for year-over-year EPS growth in the second half of fiscal 2006, excluding items impacting comparability, largely because of the company’s relatively weak performance in the second half of fiscal 2005,” a statement said.

The company is reviewing its portfolio and operations with an eye to improving profitability. The findings will be presented to investors in March 2006.