By JACK WEATHERLY
Cal-Maine Foods Inc.’s sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 were $303 million, a 24.8 percent decrease compared with $403.0 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015. The company reported a net loss of $376,000, or 1 cent per share, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016, compared with net income of $46.1 million, or 95 cents per share, for the year-earlier quarter.
Still, the company’s performance exceeded expectations of analysts surveyed by Thompson Reuters, who projected a loss of 19 cents per share.
The Jackson-based company’s stock rose 3 cents per share to close at $44.18 on the Nasdaq stock market. Its 52-week range has been from $39.60 to $63.25. Cal-Maine is the nation’s largest producer of shell eggs.
While Cal-Maine, which has 44 shell egg production facilities in 15 states, eluded the outbreak of avian flu that struck the Midwest last year, the industry was destabilized in terms of supplies and prices.
“Our results for the fourth quarter reflect these extremely volatile egg market conditions and supply disruptions,” Cal-Maine Chairman, President and Chairman Dolph Baker said in a release issued Monday before the opening of the stock market.
“Market prices for shell eggs have dropped considerably from the historically high levels we experienced at the beginning of this fiscal year,” Baker said.
The Urner Barry Price Index for eggs in the Southeastern region was $2.97 on Aug. 10. It was 58 cents on June 2.
Average selling prices fell 21.7 percent for Cal-Maine and sales volume dwindled “primarily related to the loss of some business with a major customer’s co-pack business.”
“While retail demand trends for shell eggs have been favorable, the market has continued to experience demand erosion for egg products and reduced egg exports,” Baker said.
The company sold 253 million eggs for the quarter, compared with 265 million a year earlier.
For the fiscal year as a whole, 1.05 billion eggs were sold, compared with 1.06 billion in fiscal 2015.
Yet, Cal-Maine was able to capitalize on the upside prices earlier in its fiscal year.
For the 12-month period, net sales were up – $1,908.7 million compared with $1,576.1 million for the prior year. The company reported record net income of $316 million, or $6.53 per diluted share, compared with net income of $161.3 million, or $3.33 per diluted share, for fiscal 2015.