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ConAgra to Close Plants, Cut 7,000 Jobs

May 13, 1999|Bloomberg News

ConAgra Inc. said it will shed 7,000 of its 83,000 workers and close dozens of processing plants and storage depots as part of a restructuring aimed at saving $600 million a year. Specific locations were not named. The Omaha-based firm is the country's second-largest food company and is known for brands such as Butterball turkeys, Peter Pan peanut butter and Armour foods. ConAgra Chairman and Chief Executive Bruce Rohde said: "We plan to grow ConAgra on a stronger, more competitive production and distribution base," and that the company plans to "eliminate less efficient capacity, reduce overhead and streamline ConAgra for the pursuit of aggressive growth." ConAgra said the move will raise pretax profit margins to 6.5% from 4.3%. The company set a target of 14% annual earnings growth. Profit rose less than 2% for the 1998 fiscal year, and analysts expect earnings to rise about 8% this year. ConAgra stock is down more than 21% this year. The stock plunged to a five-month low in March after the company warned that profit for its fiscal fourth quarter ended May 31 would be weaker than expected because of slack grain and meat sales. It closed at $24.81 on the New York Stock Exchange, up 19 cents.

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