It's been a pretty good 12 months for investors in poultry producer Pilgrim's Pride
Such sales are, as a rule, generally frowned upon in the short term for obvious reasons: ConAgra is, or was, a major investor in Pilgrim's Pride; its stake accounted for nearly 40% of shares outstanding and 3% of voting power as of July. (If that sounds "off" to you, check out the company's latest 14A filing with the SEC. The document is now outdated, but it helps illustrate the company's somewhat convoluted ownership setup in the section marked "Security Ownership.")
Now ConAgra is dumping a substantial portion of its shares on the open market, with none of that money going to the company. Is the timing bad? Well, nobody likes to see a major investor dumping shares at any time during the year. Nonetheless, there are some reasons not to fret.
Pilgrim's Pride is a big player in a big business that is populated -- or should I say chickened? -- by big competitors such as Tyson
The deal helped boost net profit substantially during the year ending Oct. 2, and cash flows jumped in line. Put simply, the company is performing pretty well. (W.D. Crotty had more to say about it earlier this month.) If there was a time for ConAgra to make its move -- we knew it would eventually, so yesterday's announcement amounts to confirmation and details -- it would seem to be far better now then during a rougher patch.
Still, ConAgra has the right to sell the rest of its Pilgrim's Pride shares over the next two years. It's something investors should keep an eye on.
Want to read more about the poultry business? Check out:
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this article.