Weston Foods adjusted income flat in quarter

by Eric Schroeder
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TORONTO — Operating income for the Weston Foods division of George Weston Ltd. was C$12 million ($12 million) in the second quarter ended June 16, down 78% from C$55 million in the same period of fiscal 2011. The decline was mainly due to the accrual of a multi-employer pension plan withdrawal liability of C$35 million. Adjusted operating income, meanwhile, was flat at C$65 million ($64.8 million).

Net sales were C$400 million ($398.8 million), down 2% from C$407 million a year ago.

For the first six months of fiscal 2012, operating income for Weston Foods was C$72 million, down from C$74 million, while sales moved up narrowly to C$825 million from C$817 million.

George Weston said fresh bakery sales decreased approximately 4.7% in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2011, mainly due to lower sales volumes in a difficult sales environment.

“The introduction of new products in the last 12 months, such as the Premiere Fournee de Weston line of artisan inspired breads, Country Harvest Cranberry Muesli bread, D’Italiano Brizzolio rolls and the relaunch of the Wonder and Gadoua MultiGo lines of breads that are free of artificial additives including preservatives, colors and flavors, contributed positively to branded sales in the second quarter of 2012 and year-to-date,” Weston said.

Frozen bakery sales decreased approximately 5.9% in the second quarter, mainly due to lower sales volumes, including the loss of certain distributed products, combined with the negative impact of changes in sales mix.

Biscuit sales, principally for wafers, ice cream cones, cookies and crackers, increased approximately 7.5% in the second quarter of 2012, due primarily to higher volumes combined with the positive impact of pricing and changes in sales mix.

“For the full year 2012, Weston Foods expects to deliver sales in line with 2011,” the company said. “Weston Foods will continue its efforts to reduce costs through improved efficiencies and ongoing cost reduction initiatives in an effort to achieve full-year operating margins in line with those in 2011.”

Overall, net income at George Weston fell 15% in the second quarter to C$196 million ($195.4 million), equal to C$1.06 per share on the common stock, down from C$230 million, or C$1.34 per share, in the same period of fiscal 2011. Sales rose 1% to C$7,627 million ($7,603 million) from C$7,531 million.

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