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Hain Celestial (HAIN) Falls Despite Q3 Earnings & Sales Beat

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The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (HAIN - Free Report) broke its negative earnings and sales surprise trend in third-quarter fiscal 2019 results. However, the better-than-expected performance failed to placate investors, who were let down by a year-over-year decline in top and bottom lines along with management’s retained unimpressive view for fiscal 2019.

Shares of this manufacturer, marketer, distributor and seller of organic and natural products lost 3.5% during the trading session on May 9. In fact, this Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) stock has declined close to 18% in the past year against the industry’s growth of 0.8%.

Quarter in Detail

The company posted adjusted earnings of 21 cents a share that beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny, though it plunged 43.2% year over year. The downside can be attributed to soft sales and margins along with a higher tax rate.

Net sales dropped 5% year over year to $599.8 million, while it surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $594 million. The top line was hurt by sluggish performance in the United States, the United Kingdom and Rest of World. On a constant-currency basis, net sales dropped 2%. On adjusting for currency fluctuations, buyouts, divestitures and various other items like SKU rationalization, net sales came in line with the year-ago period’s figure.

Net sales at the United States segment dropped 5% year over year to $266.4 million. On adjusting for currency fluctuations, buyouts, divestitures and various other items like SKU rationalization, net sales dipped 2%.

Net sales in the United Kingdom slid 5% to $227.2 million, while the same rose 3% on adjusting for the aforementioned items. This was backed by sales growth witnessed in Tilda and Ella's Kitchen.

Net sales for the Rest of the World segment descended 6% to $106.1 million and climbed 1% after the abovementioned adjustments.

Net sales for Hain Celestial Canada, Hain Celestial Europe and Hain Ventures decreased 6%, 4% and 16%, respectively. On adjusting for currency fluctuations, buyouts, divestitures and various other items like SKU rationalization, net sales at Hain Celestial Canada and Hain Celestial Europe rose 2% and 4%, respectively, whereas Hain Ventures net sales declined 14%.

Costs & Margins

Adjusted gross margin contracted 140 basis points (bps) to 21.6%, owing to increased trade and supply-chain expenses in the United States, and elevated commodity expenses. This was somewhat made up by savings from Project Terra.

Adjusted operating income tanked 30.5% to $38.9 million, while adjusted operating margin contracted 240 bps to 6.5%. Adjusted EBITDA decreased 24.4% to $55.5 million, while adjusted EBITDA margin shrunk 230 bps to 9.3%.

Other Financials

The company ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $27.6 million, long-term debt (excluding current portion) of nearly $729.2 million and total shareholders’ equity of $1,549.8 million. Net cash used in operating activities from continuing operations totaled $13.1 million, while capital expenditure incurred during the three months ended Mar 31, 2019, were around $14.4 million.

In fiscal 2019, cash flow from operations is anticipated to come at the lower end of the $75-$90 million range. Further, capital expenditures are expected between $70 million and $80 million.

Other Developments & Outlook

Hain Celestial concluded the sale of a significant chunk of assets related to the Plainville Farms business on Feb 15, 2019. Moreover, a day prior to the earnings announcement, the company inked a deal to sell its entire equity stake in Hain Pure Protein Corporation, which incorporates the FreeBird and Empire Kosher businesses.

Hain Celestial is well on track with Project Terra, which is aimed at cutting costs and complexity alongside driving sales. The company generated savings of nearly $27 million from this program in the third quarter and $62 million on a year-to-date basis. Management expects total savings from this program to be roughly $90 million in fiscal 2019.

Well, management is pleased with the third-quarter performance, which reflected sequential improvements in many core business areas. Further, the company is progressing well with its transformation strategy for the United States, which was highlighted at the company’s Investor Day. The strategy is aimed at simplifying portfolio, solidifying key capacities, enhancing margins, reviving top-line growth, and improving cash flows and ROIC.

While Hain Celestial’s efforts to reduce uneconomic activities and curtail supply-chain expenses are likely to enhance gross and EBITDA margins, such activities are expected to show on the top line through the rest of this fiscal and a significant part of the next one. The company is surely on track with its transformation efforts but has a long way to go to see a substantial turnaround.

All said, Hain Celestial reiterated its outlook for fiscal 2019. The company expects net sales from continuing operations in fiscal 2019 to drop 4-6% to $2.32-$2.35 billion. Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations is expected to decline 22-28% to $185-$200 million.

Finally, Hain Celestial anticipates adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations to be 60-70 cents, reflecting a decline of 40-48% from the figure reported in fiscal 2018.

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