How do margins compare between packers vs. other industries or major firms? Andy Gottschalk of Hedgers Edge.Com, LLC, an agribusiness research firm, provides the following data from financial analysis group Value Line Investment Survey. The data was derived from the latest fiscal year data available.

Gottschalk selected industries at random for comparison, and ranked them best to worst in three measurements he says are crucial to financial analysis.

Operating margin %

  1. Household products — 21%

  2. Restaurants — 18.4%

    • McDonald's — 26.8%

  3. Steel — 18%

  4. Petroleum — 15.5%

  5. Food processing — 13%

    • Smithfield — 6.5%

    • Tyson — 5.8%

  6. Trucking — 10%

  7. Grocery — 5.5%

    • Kroger — 6%

Net-profit margin %

  1. Household products — 11.2%

  2. Steel — 8%

  3. Restaurants — 7.8%

    • McDonald's — 12%

  4. Petroleum — 7%

  5. Food processing — 5.8%

    • Smithfield — 2.4%

    • Tyson — 1.9%

  6. Trucking — 3.1%

  7. Grocery — 1.3%

    • Kroger — 1.7%

Return on total capital %

  1. Household products — 20%

  2. Petroleum — 16.5%

  3. Steel — 13.5%

  4. Restaurants — 12.5%

    • McDonald's — 11%

  5. Food processing — 11.6%

    • Smithfield — 9.5%

    • Tyson — 8.5%

  6. Trucking — 8.5%

  7. Grocery — 7%

    • Kroger — 9.5%