USA – Tyson Foods, a major player in the global meat industry, has expressed cautious optimism for 2024, buoyed by what it considers a solid performance in the first quarter, despite seemingly disappointing figures on the surface.

The company reported a marginal 0.4% increase in sales revenue, reaching US$13.3 billion for the three months ending on December 30. However, adjusted operating profit (non-GAAP) experienced a 9% decline, settling at US$411 million compared to the same quarter the previous year.

President and CEO Donnie King underscored the importance of examining the sequential performance, particularly in adjusted operating income (AOI), citing a US$175 million improvement, 130 basis points of AOI margin expansion, and nearly doubling of adjusted earnings per share (EPS) in comparison to the preceding quarter.

Tyson Foods has been undergoing factory optimization initiatives, involving the closure of six older, less efficient chicken plants and two value-added beef facilities over the past year.

The benefits of these actions are already apparent, with plans to continue evaluating opportunities to enhance efficiency across segments.

Despite the positive outlook, uncertainties persist, including ongoing price pressures on consumers, competition from private labels, and challenges in the cattle supply affecting beef margins.

King acknowledged that while inflation is easing, consumers still face higher prices compared to two years ago, yet they remain willing to purchase trusted brands.

Tyson Foods holds historically high market share in core branded lines such as Tyson, Jimmy Dean, and Hillshire Farm, despite a modest decline from the previous year’s first quarter.

The company reiterated its earlier predictions that total group sales revenue would remain flat in the 2024 fiscal year, with AOI in the range of US$1 billion to US$1.5 billion.

In the chicken protein segment, Tyson Foods adjusted its AOI guidance to a more optimistic US$500 million to US$700 million, reflecting a strong start in Q1 and positive macro factors.

The company remains cautiously optimistic for the year ahead, acknowledging the complexities surrounding total protein availability, consumer sentiment, and other unpredictable factors.

The first-quarter performance across Tyson Foods’ business segments varied, with beef sales rising, pork revenue dipping, chicken revenue declining, and prepared foods’ sales edging up.

The company faces challenges in balancing price and volume growth amid a competitive consumer environment, with increased competition from both branded players and private labels.

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