The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. HAIN reported fourth-quarter fiscal 2019 results, wherein both top and bottom lines declined year over year and fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Nevertheless, the company’s adjusted margins marked the third straight quarter of sequential improvement. Further, it is on track with its transformation strategy that was announced on the company’s Investor Day. These upsides seem to have boosted investors’ sentiments. Markedly, shares of this manufacturer, marketer, distributor and seller of organic and natural products gained 3.7% during the trading session on Aug 29. Quarter in Detail The company posted adjusted earnings of 21 cents a share that fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny and declined 22.2% year over year. The downside can be attributed to soft sales.
Net sales decreased about 10% year over year to $557.7 million and missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $581 million. The top line was hurt by sluggish performance in the United States, the U.K. and Rest of World. On a constant-currency basis, net sales dropped 7%. On adjusting for currency fluctuations, buyouts, divestitures and various other items like SKU rationalization, net sales declined 6%.
Net sales at the United States segment fell 11% year over year to $239.8 million. On adjusting for currency fluctuations, buyouts, divestitures and various other items like SKU rationalization, net sales went down 8%. Net sales in the U.K. crashed 10% to $214.4 million, while the same fell 5% on adjusting for the aforementioned items. This was accountable to sales declines witnessed in Ella's Kitchen and Hain Daniels, somewhat compensated by strength in Tilda. Net sales for the Rest of the World segment descended 7% to $103.5 million and dipped 1% after the above-mentioned adjustments. Net sales for Hain Celestial Canada and Hain Ventures decreased 8% and 29%, respectively, whereas Hain Celestial Europe sales saw an increase of 1%. Costs & Margins Adjusted gross margin expanded 190 basis points (bps) to 23%, courtesy of efficiencies from trade, lower supply-chain expenses in the United States, and Project Terra sale. However, elevated commodity expenses remained a deterrent. Adjusted operating income dropped almost 9% to $40.5 million, while adjusted operating margin rose 10 bps to 7.3%. Adjusted EBITDA dropped 7.2% to $57 million, while adjusted EBITDA margin improved 30 bps to 10.2%. Notably, Hain Celestial benefited from Project Terra, which is aimed at cutting costs and complexity alongside driving sales. The company generated savings of nearly $32.9 million from this program in the fourth quarter and $91.6 million in fiscal 2019. Management had expected total savings from this program to be roughly $90 million in fiscal 2019. Other Financials The company ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $39.5 million, long-term debt (excluding current portion) of nearly $613.5 million and total shareholders’ equity of $1,519.3 million. Cash flow from operating activities from continuing operations totaled $49.5 million, while capital expenditures incurred during the fiscal were around $77.1 million. The company used operating free cash flow from continuing operations of $27.6 million during the fiscal. For fiscal 2020, cash flow from operations is anticipated to be $110-$140 million. 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, on Jun 29, the company sold its entire equity stake at Hain Pure Protein Corporation, which incorporates the FreeBird and Empire Kosher businesses. Further, it is progressing well with its transformation strategy for the United States, which was announced on 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. For fiscal 2020, the company expects to expand adjusted profit and EBITDA despite a lower top line. Further, it plans to rebuild a profitable base; improve top line; and efficiently manage mix, price, margin and volumes. Management further stated that from fiscal 2020, it will change its reporting segments to North America, international and corporate. The company envisions tremendous purchasing, marketing, innovation and manufacturing synergies in North America. All said, Hain Celestial issued a fresh outlook for fiscal 2020 on a proforma basis that excludes contributions from Tilda. Recently, Tilda was recently divested to Ebro Foods. For fiscal 2020, adjusted EBITDA is expected to grow 2-16% to $168-$192 million. Further, Hain Celestial anticipates adjusted earnings per share of 59-72 cents, which suggests a decline of 2% to increase of 20% from fiscal 2019. Price Performance This Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) stock has declined 6.7% in the past three months against the industry’s growth of 8%. Check These Better-Ranked Food Stocks General Mills GIS, with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), has a long-term EPS growth rate of 7%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. MEDIFAST ( MED Quick Quote MED - Free Report) , also with a Zacks Rank #2, has delivered positive earnings surprise in the trailing three quarters. J&J Snack Foods JJSF, with a Zacks Rank #2, has an impressive earnings surprise record. Today's Best Stocks from Zacks Would you like to see the updated picks from our best market-beating strategies? From 2017 through 2018, while the S&P 500 gained +15.8%, five of our screens returned +38.0%, +61.3%, +61.6%, +68.1%, and +98.3%. This outperformance has not just been a recent phenomenon. From 2000 – 2018, while the S&P averaged +4.8% per year, our top strategies averaged up to +56.2% per year. See their latest picks free >>