July 10, 2014

CEO: Pilgrim’s Pride exploring mergers, acquisitions

GREELEY – Pilgrim’s Pride shares were up Thursday after the Greeley-based chicken processor doubled its first quarter earnings and discussed its interest in mergers and acquisitions.

CEO Bill Lovette said in an earnings conference call that the company was busy determining valuations of potential mergers and acquisitions.

“We have an extremely strong balance sheet,” Lovette said. “We’re not afraid to look at a big deal.”

Pilgrim’s Pride shares rose about 1 percent to close at $22.05 Thursday afternoon. Company shares have more than doubled from a low of $9.90 a year ago.

The company posted $98.1 million in first-quarter net income vs. $54.6 million in net income the same period last year. The growth in profit came despite flat net sales of $2 billion during the first quarter.

Lifted by tighter chicken supply and strong demand, the company also has lowered plant costs. Additionally, Pilgrim’s Pride has confidence in the chicken export market, which it believes will see record growth this year.

“We have more comprehensive understanding of the export markets than our competitors, which is aided by our affiliation with JBS, providing more effective market access and better market intelligence on the ground,” Lovette said.

Brazilian meatpacker JBS S.A.’s (Bovespa: JBSS3) Greeley-based subsidiary JBS USA owns a controlling interest in Pilgrim’s Pride.

Analysts voiced interest in company executives’ comments on mergers and acquisitions.
Lovette said the company sees mergers and acquisitions as “a strategic part of our growth plan in the future.”

Any deal the company would pursue would have to be accretive over the long-term, he said.
Pilgrim’s has lowered its net debt from $1.4 billion in 2011 to $156 million during the first quarter, improving the company’s position to acquire or merge with other companies.

“We believe we’ve got a lot of room to lever back up and grow the company,” Lovette said. “If we found the right deal, we’d be more aggressive in terms of our leverage.”

Pilgrim’s Pride employs approximately 35,700 people and operates chicken-processing plants and prepared-foods facilities in 12 states, Puerto Rico and Mexico.


GREELEY – Pilgrim’s Pride shares were up Thursday after the Greeley-based chicken processor doubled its first quarter earnings and discussed its interest in mergers and acquisitions.

CEO Bill Lovette said in an earnings conference call that the company was busy determining valuations of potential mergers and acquisitions.

“We have an extremely strong balance sheet,” Lovette said. “We’re not afraid to look at a big deal.”

Pilgrim’s Pride shares rose about 1 percent to close at $22.05 Thursday afternoon. Company shares have more than doubled from a low of $9.90 a year ago.

The company posted $98.1 million in first-quarter net income…

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