CHICAGO — “Effective management” has propelled Ardent Mills LLC to strong financial results, said David S. Marberger, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Conagra Brands, Inc.
Ardent Mills earnings after income taxes were $306.2 million in fiscal 2022, up 81% from $169.6 million in fiscal 2021. Sales were $4.26 billion in fiscal 2022, up 25% from $3.41 billion the year before. The results were published in the Form 10-K filed July 21 with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Conagra Brands, Inc. for the year ended May 29. Conagra and Cargill each own 44% of Ardent Mills, and CHS owns 12%.
For a second consecutive quarter, Conagra in its financial results announcement highlighted the growth achieved by Ardent Mills.
Explaining a 13.5% increase in Conagra’s adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, Conagra said the gain primarily was driven by an increase in adjusted operating profit and a strong performance from the company’s Ardent Mills joint venture.
In a conference call July 14, Sean M. Connolly, president and chief executive officer of Conagra, said, “I also want to highlight the strong fourth quarter performance of our joint venture, Ardent Mills, which effectively managed through recent volatility in the wheat markets and continued to prove an effective hedge against inflation.”
Based on the 10-K and reports issued by Conagra earlier in the year, the company’s share of equity method investment earnings in the fourth quarter ended May 29 were $47.5 million, up 42% from $33.4 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021 and more than double $22.9 million in the same period in fiscal 2020. For the full year, Conagra’s share of earnings from its equity method investment earnings was $145.3 million and $84.4 million for fiscal 2022 and 2021, respectively.
Commenting on the fourth-quarter results, Mr. Marberger said, “Effective management at the joint venture allowed (Ardent Mills) to capitalize on volatile market conditions.”
Ardent Mills net assets as of May 29, 2022, were $2.06 billion, up 10.5% from $1.86 billion a year earlier.
Total dividends received from Conagra’s equity method investments in fiscal 2022 were $79 million, up 40% from $56.5 million in fiscal 2021 and $51.4 million in fiscal 2020.
Updating investment analysts on Conagra’s outlook for fiscal 2023, Mr. Marberger suggested the strong fiscal 2022 results were unlikely to be equaled or bested in fiscal 2023.“We anticipate Ardent Mills having another strong year, but expect fiscal ‘23 results to moderate versus fiscal ‘22, particularly versus the elevated performance in the second half of fiscal ’22,” he said.