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Hormel Foods : In Long Career, CFO Helped Hormel Stay Community Focused

11/15/2021 EST

When Covid was ravaging communities in 2020, Hormel Foods was able to help local health agencies identify where hotspots were thanks to the digital transformation the company initiated just a few years earlier.

Dubbed Project Orion, the project helped the 130-year-old company transition its legacy finance and accounting technology to a state-of-the-art, data-rich cloud system that proved its value during the pandemic.

"One of the things we did is, we took the outside data from Johns Hopkins [on where outbreaks were occurring nationally] and [overlaid that] with our internal [community] data … and we could find trends," Hormel CFO Jim Sheehan told CFO Dive. "So, we were proactively going to employees and saying … we're going to pay you to stay home for the next two weeks because we can see in the community in which you live there's a heavy outbreak."

The company, known for its chili and other protein-focused food products, shared with local agencies what it was seeing when it laid its data against the Johns Hopkins data.

It "was good feedback to some of these community health officials to show them exactly where they were having outbreaks," said Sheehan, a 43-year veteran of the company who is retiring at the end of the year. Jacinth Smiley, who joined in March as group vice president of corporate strategy, will take over as CFO. She previously was vice president and chief accounting officer at plastics company LyondellBasell.

Forward-looking agenda

Data transformation was one of Sheehan's main priorities when he became CFO in 2016, Sheehan said.

"We had been satisfied with always having a trailing technology that ran cheap," he said. "When I met with the staff, one of the things they talked about is the need to catch up. My answer was, I don't want to catch up; we need a generational shift. So we took a pretty old technology and we moved it into the cloud."

To help it make sense of the new data it would be generating, the company hired data analysts.

"There's no use having all this data at your fingertips if you don't know what it means or what to do about it," he said.

Adding to the complexity of moving a company generating some $10 billion a year in revenue off its legacy system was the way the leadership chose to go about it: all at once, a process that took three years to complete.

"As one of the leaders of Oracle said to me as we laid out the plan, 'This might be the boldest move I've ever seen a company make,'" said Sheehan. "We had CFOs from companies much bigger than Hormel calling me up and saying, 'I hear what's going on at Hormel. Could I send staff down there to see what you're doing?'"

Sheehan, who took on increasingly responsible jobs after starting at the company as an accountant in 1978, said he tries to take a forward-looking approach to finance leadership.

"I've been here longer than almost anybody in the company, and I probably talk less about the old days than anybody else," he said. "What happened five years ago doesn't interest me."


Hormel Foods Corporation published this content on 15 November 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 18 November 2021 19:42:06 UTC.

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Financials (USD)
Sales 2022 12 191 M - -
Net income 2022 1 085 M - -
Net Debt 2022 2 436 M - -
P/E ratio 2022 24,8x
Yield 2022 2,11%
Capitalization 26 667 M 26 667 M -
EV / Sales 2022 2,39x
EV / Sales 2023 2,30x
Nbr of Employees 20 000
Free-Float -
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Mean consensus HOLD
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Last Close Price 49,15 $
Average target price 45,80 $
Spread / Average Target -6,82%
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Managers and Directors
James P. Snee Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
Jacinth C. Smiley Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
Kevin L. Myers Senior Vice President-Research & Development
Pierre Lilly Chief Compliance Officer & Senior Vice President
Elsa A. Murano Independent Director
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