AIPC earnings ease 20% in first quarter

by Eric Schroeder
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KANSAS CITY — Earnings at American Italian Pasta Co. fell 20% in the first quarter, primarily reflecting a 13% decline in sales and one less week of financials in 2010 compared with 2009. Net income for the quarter ended Jan. 1 was $20,699,000, equal to 98c per share on the common stock, down from $26,028,000, or $1.28 per share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Revenues fell to $148,946,000, which compared with $171,206,000 in the previous year.

“We are very pleased with these results,” said Jack Kelly, chief executive officer. “Even as we implemented our strategy to extract our proprietary brands from underperforming markets, we were able to increase our penetration of proprietary and customer brands in strategic markets. As a result, on a weekly average basis, to adjust for the difference in weeks contained in the periods, we were able to increase our volume by 2%.”

Institutional revenues decreased 22% to $27.3 million during the first quarter, primarily due to a 12-percentage-point decrease in lower average selling prices and a 10-point decrease due to lower volume. Retail revenues decreased 11% to $121.6 million.

“Our strategy, which we implemented during 2009, to focus on our proprietary and customer brands in those strategic markets in which we are strongest, and to extract our proprietary brands from underperforming markets, continues to pay dividends,” Mr. Kelly said. “We increased volume in our strategic markets and improved our gross profit to 33.5% of revenue while also growing our operating profit and pre-tax income.”

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