Austin, USA. Hormel Foods Corporation publishes its annual report for the fourth quarter of 2019. The Austin-based group is maintaining its course and sees a positive outlook for the future. "In 2020, we expect to increase operating income as in 2019 while increasing sales," said Jim Snee, chairman, president and chief executive officer. The company's outlook is for higher protein prices and further volatility related to the impact of African swine fever and uncertainty in world trade.
"We have announced an 11% increase in our annual dividend, bringing the new dividend to $0.93 per share," said Snee. In this quarter, organic volumes and sales increased in three of the four segments. Volume and sales declines were related to the divestiture of Cyto Sport. The positive development of these businesses compensated for lower prices for Skippy peanut butter spreads and the divestment of CytoSport. As a reminder, in the fourth quarter of 2018, the segment recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $17 mill. related to the CytoSport business.
Jennie-O Turkey Store volumes and sales increased as growth from the Bird and Raw Materials business more than offset lower retail sales. Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey improved quarter-on-quarter due to the successful execution of advertising and promotional activities in selected markets. Segment earnings increased as a result of operational improvements and lower freight costs.
Dividends paid to shareholders amounted to $437 mill. The Company has a strong financial position with low debt and constant cash flows. Cash on hand increased to $673 mill. from $459 mill. at the beginning of the year.