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ConAgra Shares Plunge 20 Percent

February 14, 2001

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Shares of ConAgra Foods Inc. plunged nearly 22 percent in trading Wednesday after the nation’s largest food service manufacturer said its earnings over the next two quarters will fall well short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Citing high energy costs and a slowing economy as hurting its near-term business, the Omaha-based company said late Tuesday that it expects third quarter earnings of between 18 cents and 20 cents.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had expected earnings for the quarter ending Feb. 25 to be 44 cents a share.

ConAgra expects fourth quarter earnings to range from 39 cents to 41 cents a share, below First Call estimates of 53 cents a share.

Investors sent shares down $5.46 to $19.40 in heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

With sales of about $27 billion a year, ConAgra is also the nation’s second largest retail food supplier. Its brand names include Healthy Choice, Banquet meals, Hunt’s tomato products and Armour meats.

For the full fiscal year, ConAgra said it expects earnings to range from $1.46 cents to $1.50 cents a share. Analysts had expected full year earnings at $1.85 a share.

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