For America's biggest pork farmer, Smithfield Foods' (UNKNOWN:SFD.DL), shareholders have a safety net of the pending buyout from China's Shuanghui International Holdings, which just recently received the seal of approval from American regulators. In the company's recent earnings, both revenues and net income missed analyst estimates, but Wall Street remained ambivalent as the real story here is the acquisition -- the largest Chinese buyout of a U.S. firm in history. For investors, this ride is just about over, pending any last-minute issues. Here's what you need to know.
An earnings recap
The merciless Wall Street spares few, and never without (a version of) reason. Smithfield's recently ended quarter wasn't pretty, as the company saw costs continue to rise while sales grew modestly.
Overall, revenue grew 10% to $3.4 billion. The sales gains mainly came from packaged meats, which are the key growth driver of the business and come with sweet margins. Packaged meats accounted for $97.9 million of the company's operating profit.
Smithfield's fresh pork business, at a seasonal low, took the biggest hit with a loss of $36.5 million. Hog production, though increasing slightly on sales, was hit with soft demand in some international markets and a 2% rise in the cost of feeding.
Net income for the whole company came in at $39.5 million, or a diluted EPS of $0.27 per share. In the year-ago quarter, the company earned $0.40 per share on $61.7 million in net income.
For investors in Smithfield, the results simply don't matter much, as the stock will only react if there is a change in the acquisition story. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. just approved Shuanghui's proposed $4.8 billion buyout of the 77-year-old Smithfield, clearing the way for the deal to close before year's end.
The deal had raised concern from U.S. regulators and politicians because of intellectual property issues, as well as food supply questions. With China owning the world's largest producer of pork (not to mention tons of farmland here in the U.S.), some cried out that this was not in the best interest of national security. Ultimately, however, the CFIUS seems to think the deal poses little threat.
Shuanghui's offer is for $34 per share, slightly below today's stock price. Investors can just about close the book on this one, as the stock is not likely to move any higher -- leaving only downside risk in case of a deal fallout.
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