Acquisitions continue to propel Hain Celestial

by Keith Nunes
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LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. — Strong sales from the recently acquired BluePrint juice brand and Ella’s Kitchen drove earnings for the Hain Celestial Group, Inc. up 36%. For the first quarter ended Sept. 30 the company recorded net income of $27,655,000, equal to 58c per share on the common stock. The results compared favorably to the same period of the previous year when net income was $16,386,000, or 36c per share.

Sales for the quarter rose 33% to $477,484,000 compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2013.

“We are pleased with the strong start to our fiscal year with robust growth globally from numerous brands in our portfolio,” said Irwin D. Simon, president and chief executive officer of Hain Celestial. “We continue to focus on driving sales growth and distribution gains, which, combined with margin enhancement and cost containment, will position us for sustained earnings growth.”

Following the release of its earnings, Hain Celestial reconfirmed its guidance for fiscal 2014 of earnings in a range of $2.95 to $3.05 per share for fiscal year 2014, an increase of 16% to 20% as compared with fiscal year 2013.

The Hain Celestial Group is comprised of three business units – U.S., United Kingdom and Rest of World. Operating income increased for all three business units, with the U.S. division achieving an operating income of $46,366,000, a 27% change compared with the first quarter of 2013. Sales for the U.S. business unit rose 24% to $311,995,000.

In a conference call with financial analysts, John Carroll, c.e.o. of Hain U.S., said both BluePrint and Ella’s Kitchen had strong consumption growth and expanded distribution during the first quarter.

“Listen, when we acquired BluePrint, we looked at it, number one, as a great category for the whole juice category — fresh-pressed juice, we think, number one, as a cleanse, as a juice, as a meal replacement, but to go into other categories, whether it is the snacking category, other fresh products and spreads,” Mr. Simon said. “So it really is a lifestyle brand. And with our consumer base and what we see from a pricing standpoint, there is not resilience on paying anywhere from $6 to $11 for juice. So there is opportunity to sell products and get some good pricing for it. So we see it across many, many categories for us.”

Mr. Simon added that moving forward he wants Hain to have a greater presence in food service.

“One of my personal objectives is to get more and more into food service,” he said. “And today, as we meet with different stadiums and we sell veggie burgers and snacks in certain stadiums. If you look at JetBlue, and we are one of their key vendors, our contract feeders in Cisco, Aramark, (there is a) big opportunity for us in food service. The thing is with food service, it is a different pack, different price, and everybody wants a cheap price. But, food service is such a big opportunity for us in our snack category, single serve, our BluePrint juice, our pouches for Ella's, and Earth's Best doing some applesauce pouches.”
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