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LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

07/23/2020 | 05:28pm EST



USDA Mulls Cattle Market Changes after Coronavirus-Related Gyrations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested broader reporting requirements for meatpacking companies as it investigates cattle market gyrations driven by the coronavirus pandemic and a fire at a major beef plant.

The USDA said in a report Wednesday that, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice, it continues to investigate potential regulatory violations and anticompetitive conduct within the industry, but the report didn't detail any wrongdoing by meat processors.


Chipotle May Exit Pandemic Tastier Than Before -- Market Talk

15:10 ET - Chipotle is among the few companies likely "to exit the current environment in a stronger position than it entered," BTIG says after the Mexican-food chain reported 2Q adjusted earnings that beat analyst expectations. "We note that July's two-year stacked comps are up 16%, compared to about flat in 2Q20, and believe this suggests the impact from Covid-19 was primarily confined to the second quarter," BTIG says. BTIG also says Chipotle has been adding items to the menu that are luring young customers and widening the company's margins. The broker raises Chipotle's price target to $1,375 from $1,200, maintaining a Buy rating. Chipotle is off 4.5%. (paulo.trevisani@wsj.com; @ptrevisani)




Unilever 1st Half Net Profit Rose Despite Coronavirus Hit on Food, Non-Hygiene Products

Unilever PLC reported Thursday a rise in net profit for the first half despite the coronavirus headwind.

The Anglo-Dutch multisector retailer--which owns consumer brands such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove soap--made a net profit for the six months of 3.28 billion euros ($3.80 billion), compared with EUR3.01 billion in the year-earlier period.

"In North America and parts of Europe there was a positive impact from household stocking in March. Consumption patterns then normalized in the second quarter with heightened levels of demand for hygiene and in-home food products," the company said.

Turnover for the period decreased 1.6% on year at current rates to EUR25.71 billion, slowed by significant drops in the food service, out-of-home ice-cream, and non-hygiene personal-care products. Underlying sales fell 0.1% on year, below its multiyear target of 3% to 5% growth.


China's Dairy Companies Set for Solid 1H Results -- Market Talk

0809 GMT - The dairy sector in China is poised to release a solid set of 1H results in the wake of a strong sales recovery and potential margin improvement in 2Q, Goldman Sachs says. It prefers China Mengniu Dairy and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group for their expected high-teens percentage to 20% sales rebound. The companies are also likely to have a better margin outlook for 2H, thanks to muted raw-milk costs and their product-mix upgrades, GS says. It maintains a buy call on both stocks. (martin.mou@wsj.com)


BJ's Restaurants' Zig-Zag Growth Amid Virus Resurgence -- Market Talk

1623 ET - A theme of the 2Q earnings season so far is companies that saw business rebound after the most intense period of coronavirus-related lockdowns but then watched those gains reverse amid surges in new virus cases in parts of the US. BJ's Restaurants, a casual-dining chain with more than 200 locations, is no exception. By late June, the company had reopened 95% of restaurants with limited capacities, but that slipped to 70% as of today due to government officials in California and elsewhere requiring restaurants to pull back on dine-in reopening efforts in tandem with new coronavirus infections. In June, the company captured 70% of historical volumes, but that has slipped back to 60% at present, the company says. (micah.maidenberg@wsj.com; @MicahMaidenberg)




Hog Futures Higher on Supportive Cold Storage Report -- Market Talk

14:44 ET - Lean hog futures on the CME finished up 1.9% to 51.025 cents per pound. For hogs traders, the USDA's Cold Storage report showed frozen pork supplies as down 25% from this same time last year, with pork belly supplies down 8%. The drawdown of frozen pork comes as hog slaughters were up in June, a positive sign for pork demand. "Global production is expected to face challenges due to COVID and China is still dealing with the aftermath of [African swine fever]," says Craig Turner of Daniels Trading. Meanwhile, live cattle futures on the CME finished trading Thursday down 1.1% to $1.046 per pound -- with poundage of beef stored in freezers up 6% versus the same time last year. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)



Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Jul 23 
All figures are on a per-head basis. 
Date     Standard Margin       Estimated margin 
         Operating Index         at vertically - 
                             integrated operations 
Jul 23       +$ 62.59            +$ 14.95 
Jul 22       +$ 66.46            +$ 14.71 
Jul 21       +$ 79.53            +$ 21.96 
* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production. 
A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of production of the animals. 
This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite 
values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices. 
          For Today              Choice   94.7 
      (Percent of Year-Ago)      Select  100.7 
USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports 

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose $1.11 per hundred pounds, to $202.26, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.51 per hundred pounds, to $190.79. The total load count was 123. Wholesale pork prices rose 11 cents, to $68.69 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHINA MENGNIU DAIRY COMPANY LIMITED 6.02% 43.15 End-of-day quote.36.98%
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC. 1.98% 1334.62 Delayed Quote.59.43%
CLASS III MILK FUTURES (DC) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -0.65% 15.35 End-of-day quote.-20.03%
CLASS IV MILK?FUTURES (GDK) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 2.03% 13.57 End-of-day quote.-19.18%
DRY WHEY?FUTURES (DY) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 1.32% 42.3 End-of-day quote.26.71%
FEEDER CATTLE?FUTURES (GF) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -0.21% 139.5 End-of-day quote.-3.80%
INNER MONGOLIA YILI INDUSTRIAL GROUP CO., LTD. 2.18% 39.79 End-of-day quote.28.60%
LIVE CATTLE (LE) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -0.94% 108.575 End-of-day quote.-12.11%
NONFAT DRY MILK FUTURES (GNF) - CMG (ELECTRONIC)/C1 0.14% 110.65 End-of-day quote.-8.94%
THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC. 1.75% 239.58 Delayed Quote.2.41%
UNILEVER N.V. 1.11% 50.82 Delayed Quote.-0.80%
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