Shares of Lamb Weston (NYSE:LW) rose as much as 12.3% on Friday, boosted by a strong second-quarter earnings report. By 2:30 p.m. EST, the food processing company's stock had cooled down to a gain of 11%.
The Idaho-based frozen potato products specialist saw second-quarter sales rise 12% year over year, landing at $1.02 billion. Adjusted earnings increased by 19% to $0.95 per diluted share. Your average analyst would have settled for earnings near $0.84 per share on revenue in the neighborhood of $965 million. Investors and analysts were expecting soft sales growth due to a poor potato-growing season in places like Minnesota and Canada, but Lamb Weston's farms in Idaho and the Columbia Basin were unaffected, allowing the company to keep the french-fry factories running at full speed in the second quarter.
CEO Tom Werner expects tight supplies across the potato industry in 2020, but his company should be able to maintain a full supply thanks to a successful growing season in Idaho.
"We are well-positioned with our raw potato supply to deliver our volume targets and support customers' growth," Werner said on Lamb Weston's Q2 2020 earnings call. "We will opportunistically evaluate opportunities that may come our way. But our focus is to execute against our customers and the plans that they have and drive their growth. That's it."
Lamb Weston's stock is setting new price records today, bouncing back from a trough over the summer when the potato harvest looked like it would come up short. Investors who jumped in at the bottom have pocketed a 60% return in seven months.