LAKE SUCCESS, NY. — Higher food-at-home consumption related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. to raise its guidance for the fiscal year.
The company now expects adjusted earnings per share in a range of 75¢ to 82¢ and adjusted EBITDA in a range of $190 million to $200 million. Previous guidance was adjusted EPS in a range of 62¢ to 72¢ and adjusted EBITDA in a range of $179 million to $194 million.
“It is important to note that the magnitude and duration of increased demand remains uncertain and that the challenge we face is our ability to maintain the level of supply needed to keep up with the increased demand,” said Javier H. Idrovo, executive vice president and chief financial officer, in a May 7 earnings call to discuss third-quarter results. “The outlook we are providing assumes that our supply chain continues to operate with minimal disruption for the remainder of fiscal 2020.”
Hain Celestial in the third quarter ended March 31 posted net income of $24.3 million, or 24¢ per share on the common stock, which compared with a loss of $65.8 million in the previous year’s third quarter. Net sales increased 1.1% to $553.3 million from $547.3 million. Hain Celestial’s stock price on the Nasdaq closed at $28.77 per share on May 7, which was up 7% from the May 6 close of $26.81 per share.
“Yes, we benefited from the current pandemic, but it's important to note that we were on track to deliver promised improvements based on our performance in the first 2.5 months of the quarter before the pandemic really changed behavior,” said Mark L. Schiller, president and chief executive officer. “This is further evidence that our strategy is working, and we continue to deliver against our goals and guidance.”
In North America, operating income of $28.9 million in the third quarter was up 35% from $21.4 million in the previous year’s third quarter. Net sales rose 1.9% to $320.4 million from $314.3 million. Sales increased in March as COVID-19 led to more in-home meeting occasions and pantry-loading trips, Mr. Schiller said.
The Celestial Seasonings tea brand saw the biggest improvement in the third quarter.
“Tea is often used when one is sick, for a relaxing moment on a hectic day or for winding down at night,” Mr. Schiller said. “So it's well-positioned for growth in these turbulent times. Right now, the category and brand continue to grow about 40% year-over-year every week.”
Pantry loading and increased cooking at home benefited canned goods, almond butter, soup and salt.
“In terms of customers, we saw a significant increase in big-box retailers during the initial surge, and our business at large grocery chains continues to show strong mid-single-digit growth in April,” Mr. Schiller said. “As consumers began isolating, we experienced a significant increase in e-commerce.”
A recession may have less of an impact on Hain Celestial since its products appeal to more affluent consumers, Mr. Schiller said.
“So when you hear about the massive unemployment that we're experiencing, those tend to be lower income workers and less of our target,” he said. “So I think we're a little bit insulated in that regard as long as the more affluent people feel like their income is secure. The stock market is doing okay, and they're not too worried about their future.”
In International, operating income in the third quarter slipped 6% to $18.7 million from $19.9 million. Net sales were flat at $232.9 million. Hain Celestial has a fruit business in foodservice that makes up about 20% of sales in International.
“It has a large foodservice component, and those sales have dropped to almost zero in late March, and the trend continues in Q4,” Mr. Schiller said.
For the first nine months of the fiscal year, Hain Celestial sustained a loss of $83.6 million, which compared with a loss of $169.8 million in the same time of the previous year. Nine-month net sales were $1.54 billion, down 3.6% from $1.6 billion.