Weston Foods operating income falls 21% in quarter

by Eric Schroeder
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TORONTO — Operating income for the Weston Foods division of George Weston Ltd. was C$55 million ($57.4 million) in the second quarter ended June 18, down 21% from C$70 million in the same period of fiscal 2010. Net sales were C$407 million ($425.1 million), up 13% from C$359 million a year ago.

George Weston said fresh bakery sales increased approximately 2% in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2010, mainly due to the positive impact of higher pricing across key product categories partially offset by lower sales volumes.

“On a year-to-date basis, sales remained flat compared to 2010, with lower sales volumes offset by the positive impact of higher pricing across key product categories,” Weston said. “Although overall volumes declined in the second quarter of 2011 and year-to-date, growth was realized in the D’Italiano and Country Harvest brands. The introduction of new products, such as Country Harvest Ancient Grains, Country Harvest Raisin Cinnamon with Whole Wheat, Wonder+ SimplyFree and Gadoua MultiGo Flat Bagels, contributed positively to branded sales in the second quarter of 2011 and year-to-date.”

Frozen bakery sales increased approximately 39% in the second quarter, mainly due to the acquisition of Keystone and ACE. Excluding these acquisitions, frozen bakery sales increased by approximately 10%, primarily due to higher sales volumes and higher pricing.

“In the second quarter of 2011, sales and volumes were positively impacted by the timing of customer orders related to the Easter holiday when compared to the same period in 2010,” Weston said.

Biscuit sales, principally wafers, ice cream cones, cookies and crackers, decreased approximately 1% in the second quarter of 2011. Volumes increased, though, as higher cookie sales more than offset lower cone and wafer sales during the quarter.

Overall, net income at George Weston rose 18% in the second quarter to C$230 million ($240.5 million), equal to C$1.13 per share on the common stock, up from C$195 million, or C$0.91 per share, in the same period of fiscal 2010. Sales rose narrowly to C$7,531 million ($7,878 million) from C$7,482 million. For the first six months of fiscal 2011, net income was C$395 million ($413.2 million), or C$1.87 per share, up 40% from C$282 million, or C$1.12 per share, in the same period a year ago. Net sales were C$14,679 million ($15,352 million), up slightly from C$14,646 million.

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