Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of pork producer Smithfield Foods
So what: Smithfield's total revenue of $3 billion was notably shy of the $3.2 billion that analysts were looking for. However, lower costs and a much-improved gross margin led to an adjusted non-GAAP profit per share of $0.80, way ahead of Wall Street's $0.56 expectation. The company was helped in a big way by a big jump in wholesale pork prices. And a weak dollar helps -- Smithfield's CEO highlighted the fact that a weaker dollar boosted demand for its pork exports.
Now what: Smithfield management is excited about the year ahead. It's expected that there will be very little increase in U.S. hog production during the year, which would be good for prices. The company is also optimistic about what it sees ahead for corn supplies, particularly as support for corn-based ethanol seems to be waning. Smithfield looks to be hitting a cyclical stride right now, and the current valuation seems to provide room for more gains ahead. I do, however, think there are better deals out there right now. But while I'm not terribly excited about Smithfield's stock, I am seriously bullish on pork -- albeit not as a commodity investment, but as a meal, because it's delicious.
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