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CONAGRA REPORTS RECORD THIRD QUARTER AND NINE MONTH EARNINGS

 CONAGRA REPORTS RECORD THIRD QUARTER AND NINE MONTH EARNINGS
 OMAHA, Neb., March 19 /PRNewswire/ -- ConAgra Inc. (NYSE: CAG) today reported record earnings for fiscal year 1992's third quarter and first nine months ended Feb. 23, 1992.
 Third quarter earnings per share rose 18 percent to 33 cents versus 28 cents in the previous year's third quarter. Net income was up 20 percent to $84.1 million from $69.8 million. Pretax earnings increased 9 percent to $127.0 million from $116.3 million. Net sales declined 4 percent to $4.85 billion from $5.04 billion.
 Nine month earnings per share rose 8 percent to $1.07 from 99 cents a year ago. Net income increased 16 percent to $264.5 million from $228.1 million. Pretax earnings grew 10 percent to $429.8 million from $390.1 million. Net sales gained 3 percent to $15.64 billion from $15.19 billion.
 Charles M. Harper, ConAgra's chairman and chief executive officer, commented, "ConAgra's performance and progress during fiscal 1992 are especially satisfying. As the year began, we said we expected one-time pressure on first quarter earnings because Beatrice's results wouldn't be comparable. We also said we expected ConAgra's 12th straight year of record earnings, which we believe will be the case. We've achieved successive quarterly earnings per share gains of 15 percent and 18 percent despite unusual industry-wide pressure on a number of businesses and markets. Meanwhile, we've continued to invest in businesses, products and brands to build our company's earning power for the future."
 All earnings per share figures above reflect the three-for-two split of ConAgra's common stock effective Dec. 2, 1991.
 In ConAgra's largest industry segment, Prepared Foods, fiscal 1992 third quarter operating profit was slightly below fiscal 1991's third quarter. For the first nine months of fiscal 1992, Prepared Foods operating profit was ahead of the prior year.
 Armour Swift-Eckrich was a major contributor to ConAgra's third quarter earnings growth. Hunt-Wesson's third quarter operating profit was even with last year, and earnings were ahead of profit plan. Beatrice Cheese's third quarter earnings were well ahead of last year.
 These three businesses joined ConAgra with the Beatrice acquisition toward the end of last year's first quarter. Consequently, their fiscal 1992 nine month profit contribution is not fully comparable with last year; however, all three businesses are ahead of their profit plans through nine months this year.
 Total poultry products earnings were up modestly through nine months as much stronger turkey products results more than offset lower earnings in the chicken products business. Total poultry products results were down in the third quarter; turkey products results improved, but excessive industry supply pressured margins and turned the chicken products business unprofitable. The eventual cyclical upturn should be a good plus at some point for ConAgra's future earnings.
 Third quarter and nine month beef processing earnings were substantial, but trailed last year's results. Pork results improved considerably in both periods. Third quarter and nine month cattle feeding operations were unprofitable and sharply below last year's profitable results. The cattle feeding industry now appears to be returning to profitability.
 The consumer frozen foods business has maintained good share and gross margin results in the midst of a fiercely competitive industry environment. However, the competitive situation and ConAgra's support of new products caused a major earnings drop in this business in fiscal 1992's third quarter and first nine months. Margins are expected to improve eventually as the industry's surging product start-up and promotion costs return to historical levels.
 Among other Prepared Foods businesses, Golden Valley and seafood had higher third quarter and nine month operating profit. In the potato processing business, fiscal 1992 operating profit was up in the third quarter and down through nine months compared to last year.
 ConAgra's Trading and Processing industry segment recorded major operating profit growth in fiscal 1992's third quarter and first nine months.
 The gain was broadly based. Sources included good flour milling results, a rebound in the dry edible bean business and a contribution from businesses acquired after last year's third quarter. Grain merchandising earnings were up sharply in the third quarter and well ahead through nine months. The specialty food ingredients and feed ingredient merchandising businesses also achieved strong earnings growth in both periods.
 In ConAgra's Agri-Products industry segment, operating profit decreased in fiscal 1992's third quarter and increased through nine months. The segment's largest business, crop protection chemicals, enjoyed excellent earnings gains in both periods. Specialty retailing earnings were down in the third quarter and up through nine months. The fertilizer business was below last year in both periods.
 Lower selling prices and a different business mix contributed to ConAgra's net sales decline in fiscal 1992's third quarter. Lower raw material costs were passed through as lower selling prices in several businesses, including beef, pork, and processed meats. One business was sold and three wholly owned businesses became part of joint ventures with outside partners; sales of these relatively small businesses are no longer included in ConAgra's reported sales.
 ConAgra's effective income tax rates for fiscal 1992's third quarter and first nine months were 33.8 percent and 38.5 percent versus 40.0 percent and 41.5 percent in fiscal 1991. Causes of the lower tax rate this year include the mix of foreign earnings, the decreasing effect of goodwill amortization as pretax earnings grow and higher equity in earnings of unconsolidated affiliates. The revised full year estimate of 38.5 percent is reflected in the nine month rate and required a catch-up adjustment in fiscal 1992's third quarter. The 38.5 percent rate remains significantly higher than the rate for the three fiscal years before fiscal 1991.
 Lower interest expense in fiscal 1992's third quarter mainly reflects lower interest rates. The Beatrice acquisition was the principal reason for higher interest expense, preferred dividends and weighted average shares outstanding in fiscal 1992's first nine months.
 Fiscal 1991 third quarter and nine months results have been restated to incorporate results of Golden Valley Microwave Foods Inc. which merged with ConAgra on July 11, 1991. The restatement is due to accounting for the merger as a pooling of interests and did not have a material effect on earnings per share.
 CONAGRA INC.
 Sales and earnings for fiscal 1992 third quarter (13 weeks) and fiscal 1991 third quarter (13 weeks) ended Feb. 23, 1992 and Feb. 24, 1991.
 In millions except per share amounts.
 THIRD QUARTER (December-February)
 Percent
 Fiscal 1992 Fiscal 1991 Change
 Net sales $4,848.5 $5,039.5 (3.8)
 Costs and expenses
 Cost of goods sold 4,107.0 4,319.4 (4.9)
 Selling, administrative
 and general expenses 532.3 513.5 3.7
 Interest expense, net 86.2 92.9 (7.2)
 4,725.5 4,925.8 (4.1)
 Income before equity in earnings
 of unconsolidated affiliates
 and income taxes 123.0 113.7 8.2
 Equity in earnings of
 unconsolidated affiliates 4.0 2.6 53.8
 Income before income taxes 127.0 116.3 9.2
 Income taxes 42.9 46.5 (7.7)
 Net income 84.1 69.8 20.5
 Less preferred dividends 6.1 5.9 3.4
 Net income available
 for common stock $ 78.0 $ 63.9 22.1
 Earnings per common and
 common equivalent share $ 0.33 $ 0.28 17.9
 Weighted average number of
 common and common equivalent
 shares outstanding 233.4 227.3 2.7
 CONAGRA INC.
 Sales and earnings for fiscal 1992 nine months (39 weeks) and fiscal 1991 nine months (39 weeks) ended Feb. 23, 1992 and Feb. 24, 1991.
 In millions except per share amounts.
 NINE MONTHS (June-February)
 Percent
 Fiscal 1992 Fiscal 1991 Change
 Net sales $15,644.4 $15,190.8 3.0
 Costs and expenses
 Cost of goods sold 13,439.5 13,210.1 1.7
 Selling, administrative
 and general expenses 1,522.2 1,364.3 11.6
 Interest expense, net 265.5 234.4 13.3
 15,227.2 14,808.8 2.8
 Income before equity in earnings
 of unconsolidated affiliates
 and income taxes 417.2 382.0 9.2
 Equity in earnings of
 unconsolidated affiliates 12.6 8.1 55.6
 Income before income taxes 429.8 390.1 10.2
 Income taxes 165.3 162.0 2.0
 Net income 264.5 228.1 16.0
 Less preferred dividends 18.1 12.8 41.4
 Net income available
 for common stock $ 246.4 $ 215.3 14.4
 Earnings per common and
 common equivalent share $ 1.07 $ 0.99 8.1
 Weighted average number of
 common and common equivalent
 shares outstanding 230.8 217.9 5.9
 Weighted average shares outstanding and earnings per share reflect the three-for-two split of ConAgra common stock effective Dec. 2, 1991.
 Fiscal 1991 third quarter and nine months results have been restated to reflect pooling of interests with Golden Valley Microwave Foods Inc. which merged with ConAgra on July 11, 1991. Before pooling, results for fiscal 1991's third quarter and nine months respectively were net sales $4,874.2 million and $14,689.9 million, income before income taxes $107.9 million and $356.9 million, net income $65.6 million and $211.8 million, and earnings per share 28 cents and 98 cents.
 -0- 3/19/92
 /CONTACT: Walt Casey of ConAgra, 402-595-4154/
 (CAG) CO: ConAgra Inc. ST: Nebraska IN: FOD SU: ERN


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