C. Larry Pope, Smithfield Foods chief executive officer, has filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission notifying the agency that he sold 100,000 shares of common stock. Pope's weighted average selling price for the Smithfield stock was $13.50, according to Meatingplace.com. After the sale, Pope still owns 222,000 shares.
According to a company statement, Pope sold the shares to "meet personal financial obligations."
J.P. Morgan analyst Ken Goldman said in a note to investors, "The timing is not ideal. We have spoken with numerous investors who are disappointed that management is selling so much stock so soon after (1) speaking very confidently about the business at a conference and (2) doing a road show in which capital was requested and received."
Goldman maintains his bullish "overweight" rating on the stock, but said in the note that he is "less optimistic … after this activity."
In a company statement released Thursday, Pope reiterated his enthusiasm about the future of Smithfield Foods. "Smithfield's packaged meats business is performing at record levels and profitability is already benefiting from the restructuring plan,” he said. “In addition, hog production results will improve as herd reductions accelerate and supply is reduced. We continue to position the overall business for much stronger earnings and I am very optimistic about the potential earnings power of this company," said Pope.
With sales of $12 billion, Smithfield Foods is the leading processor and marketer of fresh pork and packaged meats in the United States, as well as the largest producer of hogs.
Source: Meatingplace.com, Smithfield Foods