Ketchup king H.J. Heinz Co. (HNZ: Quote) reported Thursday a profit for the fourth quarter that declined from last year, hurt by charges related to productivity initiatives and lower margins.
However, adjusted earnings per share grew 17.4 percent year-over-year, boosted by strong performance in emerging markets and global ketchup sales, and topped analysts' expectations.
Quarterly revenues missed their estimates by a whisker, but the company provided earnings guidance for the full-year 2013, in line with Street view.
Further, the Heinz board approved a 7.3 percent increase in quarterly dividend to $0.52 per share, payable on July 10 to shareholders of record as of June 24, 2012.
"Heinz delivered strong fourth-quarter results led by our trio of growth engines - Emerging Markets, Global Ketchup and our Top 15 Brands," President and CEO William Johnson said in a statement.
Sales for the quarter grew 5.6 percent to $3.05 billion from the same quarter last year, but missed twelve Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $3.07 billion by a whisker.
North American consumer sales edged down 2.2 percent, while Heinz Europe sales grew 1.2 percent, and sales for Heinz Asia/Pacific increased 4.0 percent.
Emerging markets organic sales surged more than 17 percent. Global sales of the company's top 15 brands were up, and results benefited from two extra shipping days.
The acquisition of the Quero brand in Brazil increased total company sales by 3.1 percent as they continued to perform well.
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based maker of Heinz ketchup, Weight Watchers meals and Ore-Ida French fries reported net income of $175.34 million or $0.54 per share for the fourth quarter, lower than $223.86 million or $0.69 per share in the prior-year quarter.
Excluding special charges of $0.27 per share for productivity initiatives, adjusted net income for the latest quarter was $261.47 million or $0.81 per share.
On average, 15 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.79 per share for the fourth quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
"Excluding special charges, Heinz grew earnings per share by more than 17% and we delivered our 28th consecutive quarter of organic sales growth, supported by increased investments in marketing, productivity and Emerging Markets capabilities," Johnson added.
For fiscal 2012, sales grew 8.8 percent to a record of $11.6 billion.
Looking ahead to fiscal 2012, Heinz expects constant currency adjusted earnings from continuing operations in a range of $3.52 to $3.62 per share on projected organic sales growth of at least 4 percent. Street currently is looking for full-year 2013 earnings of $3.59 per share on annual sales of $12.05 billion.
HNZ closed Wednesday's regular trading session at $53.86, down $0.10 on a volume of 2.10 million shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a range of $48.17 to $55.47.
| || |
| To receive FREE breaking news email alerts for HJ Heinz Co. and others in your portfolio|
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com