By JACK WEATHERLY
Cal-Maine Foods on Monday reported net income of $71.8 million, or $1.48 per share, for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2018, which ended June 2, compared with a net loss of $24.5 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier.
Net sales for the quarter were $443.1 million, a 61.4 percent increase over $274.6 million for the corresponding period a year earlier.
The company narrowly missed the earnings consensus estimate, and so its shares on the NasdaqGS market fell $1 on Monday, closing at $44.95. Their 52-week range is $33.40 to $52.30.
Nevertheless, Dolph Baker, chairman, president and chief executive officer, stated that Cal-Maine enjoyed â€œthe best fourth quarter performance in the company’s history.”
Propelled by a $43 million, or 89 cents per share, benefit from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax reform legislation, Jackson-based Cal-Maine, the nation’s largest producer of in-shell eggs, reported a fiscal year-end net income of $125.9 million, or $2.60 per share, compared with a net loss of $74.3 million, or $1.54 per share a year earlier.
Those results also include an after-tax charge of $54.8 million, or $1.13 per share, recorded in the second quarter of fiscal 2018, related to the settlement of previously disclosed antitrust litigation.
Baker said in January that “we reached an agreement on material terms of the settlement of antitrust lawsuits that several large purchasers had filed nearly a decade ago against the company and many other egg producers. While we deny any liability in these cases and still believe that our conduct has always been lawful, we decided that it was in the best interests of our shareholders, customers and employees to settle these long-standing cases at this time.”
For the fiscal year ending June 2, 2018, net sales were $1,502.9 million, compared with $1,074.5 million for the prior-year period.
Sales gains reflect strong consumer demand and significantly higher average selling prices compared with the same period a year ago.
“Specialty eggs, excluding co-pack sales, accounted for 25.5 percent of our sales volumes for the fourth quarter, compared with 22.7 percent a year ago,” Baker said. “Specialty egg revenue was 29 percent of total shell egg revenue, compared with 42 percent for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017. . . . Specialty eggs remain a primary focus of our growth strategy.â”
Baker said that the company is “closely monitoring” a proposed referendum in California later this year, which, if passed, would require that all eggs consumed in the state to be from cage-free hens.
Baker said the company would continue â”to provide a favorable product mix, including cage-free and other specialty eggs, and look for acquisition or other growth opportunities that enhance our operations”
For the fiscal fourth quarter, the company will pay a dividend of 35 cents per share.
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