Mr. Peanut made a big splash at the Super Bowl last month, but Planters, the snack brand he represents, is off to a sluggish start in 2023.
The revelation came Thursday as leaders at Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods Corp. reported first quarter sales were down 2% from last year.
"Our results were disappointing and below our expectations," Hormel CEO Jim Snee said on a conference call to discuss 2023's first quarter financial results. Snee blamed "persistent impact from inflationary pressures, supply chain inefficiencies and lower sales volumes across each of the business segments" for the slow sales.
Revenue for the quarter came in at $3 billion, for earnings of $0.40 per share. Earnings at this time last year were $0.44 per share. Hormel's stock price slid 6% in Thursday early morning trading before rebounding slightly.
In addition to lower sales in the snacking sector, Hormel leaders reported tight supply in pork and lingering impacts of bird flu in turkeys, creating volatility for the company's value-added meats segment.
Hormel CFO Jacinth Smiley said the company's Jennie-O Turkey segment may see instances of bird flu once again this spring "as migration begins along the Mississippi flyway."
But it wasn't just one business segment feeling the losses. Snee said of the 4-cent earnings decline per-share throughout the last year, at least 1 cent could stem from China's slow rebound from COVID-19 restrictions.
While the company a year ago had struggled with staffing, he said the plants are now running efficiently. But he said production levels have outpaced demand for a range of products. Still, Snee projected 1% to 3% growth by year's end.
The quarter began in November and ended on January 29, two weeks before a Super Bowl commercial featured a comedic roast of Mr. Peanut — Planter's iconic mascot.
But Smiley said impacts for Planters from promotion could be felt both before and after the Super Bowl, striking an optimistic note for the second quarter. Hormel reported the ad notched 2.5 billion earned impressions.
This story has been updated to reflect Hormel's first quarter ended prior to the Super Bowl.