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Maple Leaf Foods Sees Earnings Rise

01 November 2012

CANADA - Canadian meat and food processing group, Maple Leaf Foods, has recorded Adjusted Operating Earnings for the third quarter of 2012 of C$76.3 million compared to C$73.3 million last year.

Net earnings for the third quarter were C$32.6 million, compared to C$43.0 million in the same period last year.

Adjusted Earnings per Share were C$0.29 compared to C$0.34 last year (C$0.27 excluding a C$9.8 million tax adjustment associated with a prior acquisition).

"Our third quarter marked a return to operating profit growth in 2012 as we continue to enhance performance in our base business and execute our value creation strategies," said Michael H. McCain, President and CEO.

"We are achieving earnings growth in our consumer facing prepared meats and bakery businesses, and managing higher input costs through responsible pricing. While the challenges of consumer bread demand and pork market conditions continue, we are seeing signs of improvement in both."

Protein Group

Sales for the Protein Group, which includes the Company's Meat Products Group and Agribusiness Group, declined 0.9 per cent to C$837.6 million in the third quarter of 2012, from C$845.1 million for the prior year period.

Adjusted Operating Earnings were C$46.5 million compared to C$46.2 million for the third quarter last year.

Results for the Company's Meat Products Group and Agribusiness Group should be viewed in combination due to intercompany transactions and correlated factors within these operations.

Meat Products Group

Includes value-added prepared meats, lunch kits; and fresh pork, poultry and turkey products sold to retail, foodservice, industrial and convenience channels. Includes leading Canadian brands such as Maple Leaf®, Schneiders® and many leading sub-brands.

Meat Products Group sales for the third quarter declined 2.1 per cent to C$761.2 million from C$777.2 million for the third quarter last year. After adjusting for the impact of a weaker Canadian dollar, which increased the sales value of pork exports, sales declined 2.9 per cent, primarily due to lower foodservice sales in the prepared meats business.

Adjusted Operating Earnings for the third quarter increased 38.9 per cent to C$28.8 million compared to C$20.8 million last year, driven by strong earnings growth in the prepared meats and fresh poultry businesses.

Branded sales growth and innovation, as well as operating cost reductions drove margin expansion in the prepared meats business. The Company's network transformation initiatives also contributed to results, although earnings growth was partly offset by lower sales volumes. The Company continues to manage cost inflation through price increases as required.

Sales of higher value products under the Maple Leaf Prime chicken brand and improvements in industry poultry processor margins drove higher earnings in the fresh poultry operations.

Earnings in primary pork processing were consistent with last year as higher pricing and margins in international exports were offset by weaker industry margins in North America.

Agribusiness Group

Consists of Canadian hog production, animal by-product recycling operations including bio-diesel manufacturing and distribution.

Sales in the Agribusiness Group increased 12.6 per cent to C$76.5 million for the third quarter compared to C$67.9 million last year, reflecting higher toll feed sales.

Adjusted Operating Earnings for the third quarter of 2012 decreased 30.7 per cent to C$17.6 million compared to C$25.4 million last year. Hog production earnings were lower due to a combination of higher feed costs and lower market prices for hogs. Lower earnings in the by-products recycling operations compared to historically strong levels last year as prices paid for raw materials and operating costs increased.

Bakery products Ggoup

Bakery Products Group sales for the third quarter decreased 3.8% to $401.3 million, compared to $417.0 million last year.

After adjusting for the closure of a bakery in the UK and currency translation on sales in the US and UK, sales declined 2.3 per cent, primarily related to lower volume in the fresh bakery business.

Adjusted Operating Earnings for the third quarter of 2012 increased 9.7 per cent to $30.8 million compared to $28.1 million last year, driven by higher earnings in the fresh bakery and North American frozen bakery operations, partly offset by lower earnings in the fresh pasta business.

Earnings in the UK bakery business were consistent with last year.

Results benefited from positive hedging activities for raw materials during the quarter, although the Company continues to experience inflationary costs and projected increases in flour and dairy costs that will require offsetting price increases. Fresh bakery volumes were consistent with the second quarter of 2012, but lower than last year, reflecting industry volume declines.

Despite the lower volumes, margins expanded in the fresh bakery business, principally through cost management. The North American frozen bakery business benefited from higher pricing and increased sales volumes compared to last year.

In the UK, improvements from cost reduction strategies, including the closure of a bakery in the first quarter, were offset by lower volumes and costs of commissioning new croissant capacity.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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