Moody's Investors Service has confirmed the long-term ratings of Smithfield Foods at B1, concluding the review for possible downgrade originally begun on June 12. The rating includes the company's corporate family rating and probability of default rating,

The action comes after the completion of the sale of Smithfield's beef business to JBS S.A. for $565 million. Moody's said their rating outlook for Smithfield is still negative.

"The negative rating outlook incorporates Moody's expectation that Smithfield's consolidated operating profitability and cash flow are likely to remain pressured in the near term, especially now that the company's business is concentrated in pork," the rating agency said.

BB&T Capital Markets continued to recommend the stock as a long-term investment despite similar concerns for Smithfield in the near term. BB&T said Smithfield's earnings recovery could take longer than expected. "We are concerned about pork packing margins, which have already shown deterioration and could deteriorate further dependent upon demand trends. The decline in ham prices has been somewhat alarming," BB&T noted.

Source: Meatingplace.com