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Food products giant, ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG - Analyst Report) hit a 52-week high of $35.05 on Mar 13 due to the recent increase in its guidance. ConAgra has generated a return of approximately 18.8% year-to-date.

This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company’s long-term estimated earnings per share growth rate is 7.9%. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months came in at approximately 3,314K.

Increase in Outlook

In early February, ConAgra increased its earnings guidance for 2013 to $2.15 from $2.06 per share announced previously. The outlook was upped on the back of an increase in contribution from its business segments and the January closing of U.S.-based private label food manufacturer; Ralcorp Holdings Inc.

This acquisition is a strategic fit to ConAgra as it will boost up the revenue significantly. Management expects the combined entity to garner sales of over $18.0 billion annually. Also, starting from the fourth year, the company is expected to derive cost synergies of about $225 million per year from this acquisition. Moreover, Ralcorp is also expected to contribute around $0.25 per share to fiscal 2014 earnings.

Moreover, earlier this month, ConAgra also inked an agreement with CHS Inc. and privately owned Cargill Inc. to set up a new joint venture (a flour-milling company) called Ardent Mills.

In late December last year, ConAgra reported impressive results for the fiscal second quarter 2013. Earnings per share were recorded at 57 cents versus 49 cents reported in the year-ago quarter. Results also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 55 cents.

The stock has gained continuous momentum following a string of positive news events over the past 2-3 months. Estimates have also been increased consistently over the past 60 days. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2013 rose almost 2.9% to $2.15 while that for fiscal 2014 increased 6.5% to $2.46 over the same period.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other stocks worth a look in the food industry are Chiquita Brands International Inc. (CQB - Snapshot Report) and Flowers Foods Inc. (FLO - Snapshot Report); both holding a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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