About a month ago, news hit that dozens of egg farms nationwide may have produced salmonella-tainted eggs. Within a couple of weeks, producers had recalled a half-billion eggs. The news was terrible for businesses even incidentally connected to the egg market, sending shares of supermarket giants like SUPERVALU
Indeed, its connection to one of the affected farms forced Cal-Maine to recall a whopping ... 800,000 dozen eggs, or about 0.4% of the eggs it sold this past quarter. In fact, the company reported Monday that sales were up about 1.4% year over year, with earnings clucking in at $4.8 million, or $0.20 per share, compared to last year's $0.16 loss.
Of course, part of the jump in earnings owes to a $2.6 million insurance settlement related to fire damage sustained at one of the company's facilities last year. While the settlement is ostensibly for "business interruption" -- think of it like the lost wages payout you might receive after recuperating from a car accident in the hospital -- the interruption occurred last year, and the company stated last quarter that reconstruction is "substantially complete." In fact, the site's not back to maximum production only because the company is now taking the opportunity to expand it. So the business interruption payout should be considered, if anything, part of an earlier period's earnings.
However, even without the $2.6 million settlement, net income remains quite healthy, with adjusted EPS coming in about $0.09. Cal-Maine's conservative dividend policy pays out only one-third of net income. In the event of a loss, the company will suspend the dividend until net income is positive on a cumulative basis. The $0.067 dividend is a bit more than a third of reported net income, but still easily affordable, especially given the company's large cash position.
Fellow Fool Nick Kapur recently recommended Cal-Maine for the Fool's 11 O'Clock Stock pick, and I couldn't agree more. This is a healthy, conservatively run company, and even in the face of an industry crisis, it's come out sunny-side up.
Fool contributor Jacob Roche once drank raw eggs, a la Rocky, and does not recommend it. He holds no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Fool owns shares of Cal-Maine Foods. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.