ConAgra And Pinnacle Foods Aren't Priced-to-Buy Yet

| About: ConAgra Brands, (CAG)

"Unlimited patience brings immediate results" comes from a source unknown to me, but it certainly isn't a contradiction. Its corollary in the world of investing may be, "Ready, Get Set, Not Quite Yet!"

Both of those wise sayings might be suitable for those of us waiting to invest in ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG). The brand names associated with this company reads like a "Who's Who" of North American favorites.

They include Alexia, ACT II, Banquet, Blue Bonnet, Chef Boyardee, DAVID, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, Hebrew National, Hunt’s, Marie Callender’s, Odom’s Tennessee Pride, Orville Redenbacher’s, PAM, Peter Pan, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, Snack Pack, Swiss Miss, Van Camp’s, Wesson, Kangaroo, and Del Monte. These names the company claims are found in "97% of America's homes."

CAG also has a division that it calls its "Commercial Foods" segment. It offers commercially branded foods and ingredients that are sold primarily to food-service, food manufacturing, and industrial customers.

It provides specialty potato products, milled grain ingredients, a range of vegetable products, seasonings, blends, and flavors under the ConAgra Mills, Lamb Weston, and Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings brands. CAG was founded in 1919 in Warren Buffett's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Wednesday, April 3rd the company stepped into the earnings confessional and shared the following details about its Fiscal Year 2013 3rd Quarter Financial Results:

  • Diluted EPS from continuing operations of $0.29 as reported and $0.55 adjusted for items impacting comparability, down as reported and up on a comparable basis.
  • Consumer Foods' operating profit increased on a comparable basis, including an approximate 33% increase in base business marketing investment. The increase in investment reduced the quarter's EPS by approximately $0.04 per diluted share. Segment sales increased 7%, driven by acquisitions.
  • Commercial Foods' sales and comparable operating profit increased.
  • The company completed the acquisition of Ralcorp on January 29, 2013. ConAgra Foods' fiscal 2013 third-quarter results include 27 days of EPS contribution from Ralcorp. The company continues to expect EPS benefit of approximately $0.05 per diluted share in fiscal 2013 from this transaction.
  • As previously stated, the company expects EPS for the full fiscal year, adjusted for items impacting comparability, to be approximately $2.15, resulting in 17% comparable year-over-year EPS growth. The $2.15 includes approximately $0.05 per diluted share benefit from the acquisition of Ralcorp.
  • The board of directors approved a dividend of $0.25 per common share to be paid on May 31, 2013, to stockholders of record at the close of business on April 30, 2013.

You can read the fine points and details by going to CAG's website. Of special note is the one month results from its Ralcorp acquisition, which contributed a total of $292 million in sales and $5 million of operating profit in the fiscal third quarter as reported. After adjusting for $17 million of net expense from items impacting comparability, operating profit was $22 million.

Here's a one-year chart, including the history of the volume for CAG:

Chart forConAgra Foods, Inc. (<a href=

With a slight pullback and a general market correction, I hope we might be able to "bottom-fish" and snag some shares near the February 26, 2013 intraday low of $33.41. With a forward (1-year) PE ratio that now appears to be closer to 14 or slightly less and selling at a Price-to-Sales ratio of around 1, CAG looks nearly ready to be purchased.

Pinnacle Foods (NYSE:PF) the illustrious 5-day old IPO seems to be the "museum" or "catch-all" of many great brand names of the "Food Hall of Fame," including Birds Eye Frozen, Duncan Hines Grocery,Vlasic, Mrs. Butterworth's and Log Cabin, Armour, Nalley, Brooks, Comstock, Wilderness, Open Pit, and Bernstein's brand names.

The Birds Eye Frozen segment alone offers frozen vegetables, frozen meals, frozen seafood, single-serve frozen dinners and entrées, frozen breakfast, frozen and refrigerated bagels, and frozen pizza. These include Van de Kamp's, Mrs. Paul's, Hungry-Man, Aunt Jemima, Lender's Bagels, and Celeste brand names.

The IPO was all about reducing PF's debt and they are product innovators with great levels of experience that I anticipate will produce higher earnings and dividends over time. It trades at a discounted valuation to its peers, and analysts like Jim Cramer and TheStreet's Stephanie Link believe that as management executes on its plan, that discount will narrow.

Commenting on the announcement, Pinnacle Foods Chief Executive Officer Bob Gamgort stated:

"Becoming a public company has long been a goal of Pinnacle Foods, and we are delighted by the strong support we received from the investment community. By reinvigorating our iconic brands in a business model with margin expansion potential and strong cash flows, we believe we are well positioned to create long-term value for our shareholders. We plan to use all of the proceeds from this offering to reduce debt."

Since PF shares began trading on March 28th, they've been as high as $24.61 and as low as $22.15. The low on April 4th was $23.85. Until they announce a dividend there's are reasons to believe that patient investors may be able to buy near $23 or maybe a little below on the next stock market day of panic (which eventually will happen).

Former high-fliers like Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) are examples that it pays to let the stock price come to you. Patience and due diligence helps us to pay the lowest prices at auspicious times.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.