ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) Q4 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Jun 30, 2020 • 09:30 am ET
fourth quarter in particular our transformation was put to the test, and you are seeing the fruits of our labor.
Our modernized portfolio and agile culture enabled us to respond to the increased consumer demand driven by COVID-19. At this point, the degree to which demand will return to historical norms is still uncertain and the timing of the changes in consumer demand is also uncertain. However, we believe that demand will likely remain elevated in the near term given both consumer perceptions about returning to work and eating outside the home as well as the fact that consumers are discovering and rediscovering the pleasures, conveniences and tremendous value proposition of dining at home.
Dave will cover the financials in more detail, but I want to let you know that we continue to be on track to deliver our fiscal 2022 algorithm, and we remain committed to achieving our leverage target of 3.5 times to 3.6 times by the end of fiscal 2021.
As we'll detail today, we believe our portfolio is optimally positioned to succeed in the new normal. We are focused on making the right investments to ensure that we can continue to safely and reliably meet consumers' needs in fiscal '21 and the longer term. In today's presentation, we will cover our business update, the behavioral shifts we have seen and how Conagra is well positioned to benefit from these shifts and what we expect going forward in terms of our near-term outlook and the opportunity to create long-term value.
Beginning with our business update. Before I get into the numbers, I would like to recognize that our extraordinary results have only been possible because of the thousands of hardworking Conagra team members on the front lines across North America. Here at Conagra, we talk about infusing a refuse to lose attitude, and never before have we seen our team make such extraordinary efforts. The team's commitment has enabled us to meet the elevated demand from our customers and the communities we serve and deliver the strong results that we are announcing today. I couldn't be more proud of all that they've accomplished. To all of our team members, thank you. Great job all around.
During the fourth quarter, we experienced significant growth across our core operating metrics, including 21.5% growth in organic net sales and a 108.3% growth in adjusted EPS. These results helped to contribute to our rapid progress in reducing our leverage, and I'm proud to say that we ended the quarter with a net leverage ratio of 4.0 times, down from 4.8 times in the third quarter. As you can see on slide 9, our growth was not confined to one area, but was driven by strong retail sales across our portfolio, spanning staples, frozen and snacks. Our strong growth in e-commerce continued to accelerate both on an absolute basis and as a percentage of our overall sales. The work we've done over the past several years to improve our e-commerce capabilities has