Flowers share price hits 52-week low

by Eric Schroeder
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THOMASVILLE, GA. — Flowers Foods, Inc.’s share price fell to $18.49 on Sept. 15, establishing a new 52-week low and its lowest level since it traded at $18.46 on Nov. 12, 2012. The stock closed at $18.61 on Sept. 15.

Flowers’ share price has been under pressure since the company announced disappointing second-quarter results in mid-August. Net income at Flowers Foods in the second quarter ended July 12 was $42,064,000, equal to 20c per share on the common stock, down 9% from $46,460,000, or 22c per share, in the second quarter of 2013. Sales were $877,378,000, down 2.3% from $898,153,000.

Updating its financial guidance for 2014, Flowers in mid-August significantly reduced its earnings growth forecast for the full year — to a range of 1.1% to 7.7%. Three months earlier, the company had forecast full-year growth of 7.7% to 15.4%. Sales growth for the year was tightened to a range of 3.5% to 5%, from 6% to 10%.

Following the release of the financials, Flowers’ stock traded as low as $18.50 on Aug. 12 before closing at $19.10.

Since financials were released in mid-August, several top Flowers’ executives have exercised options to buy the company’s stock.

On Sept. 9, Gene D. Lord, executive vice-president of Flowers, exercised options to buy approximately 104,300 shares of Flowers stock. In a Form 4 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Flowers said Mr. Lord purchased 104,287 shares of Flowers stock on Sept. 5 at a price of $11 per share. The same day, Mr. Lord sold 14,000 shares at $19.35 per share. On Sept. 8, he sold 20,000 shares at a price of $19.21 and 20,000 shares at a price of $19.13, and on Sept. 9 sold 20,000 shares at a price of $19.05.

“He intends to hold for the foreseeable future the shares of Flowers Foods common stock obtained through this option exercise, net of those shares necessary to cover the exercise price and related tax liability,” Flowers said.

Flowers said the options were granted to Mr. Lord in 2008 under the company's equity and performance incentive plan and will expire in February 2015. Following the completion of this exercise, Mr. Lord will hold approximately 721,000 shares of Flowers Foods common stock, which Flowers said is “well in excess of the company’s stock ownership guidelines.”

Mr. Lord’s actions came a little less than a month after George E. Deese, executive chairman of the company, exercised options to purchase about 529,000 shares of Flowers stock on Aug. 22.

 In a Form 4 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Flowers said Mr. Deese purchased 528,975 shares of Flowers stock on Aug. 20 at a price of $11 per share. The following two days Mr. Deese sold 232,000 shares at $19.26 per share and an additional 183,000 shares at a price of $19.15.

Flowers said the options were granted to Mr. Deese in 2008 under the company’s equity and performance incentive plan and will expire in February 2015. Following the completion of this exercise, Mr. Deese will hold approximately 2.2 million shares of Flowers Foods common stock.
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