Kellogg Company K reported fourth-quarter 2019 results, with earnings and sales surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate. However, the topline declined year over year due to impacts from the divestiture of the company’s cookies, fruit snacks, pie crusts and ice-cream cones businesses. Q4 in Detail Adjusted earnings of 91 cents per share were flat year over year. Moreover, the metric beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 86 cents. Reduced net interest expenses and increased other income were offset by the absence of results from divested businesses. On a constant-currency (cc) basis, adjusted earnings came in at 99 cents per share that werein line with the year-ago quarter’s figure. The company delivered net sales of $3,223 million, which slipped 2.8% year over year. Nevertheless, the figure surpassed the consensus mark of $3,198 million. The year-over-year downside was caused by impacts from the divestiture of the company’s cookies, fruit snacks, pie crusts and ice-cream cones businesses. Absence of the divested businesses dragged sales by about 6%. Sales dropped 2.8% to $3,224 million at cc. Further, organic revenues moved up 2.7% to $3,224 million. Adjusted operating profit fell 6.8% to $403 million, as improvement in the base business was more than offset by the impact from absence of the divested businesses. The metric dropped 6.9% to $403 million at cc.
Segment Discussion Sales in the North America segment amounted to $1,894 million, down 7.3% due to divestiture impacts. Sales inched up more than 1% on an organic basis, courtesy of continued consumption gains in categories like Cheez-It, Pringles, Rice Krispies Treats and Pop-Tarts among others. Moreover, adjusted operating profit declined 5%. Revenues in the Europe segment totaled $526 million, up 2.9% year on year. Further, sales rose more than 3% on organic basis, backed by sustained momentum in snacks category, especially Pringles brand. Adjusted operating profit improved 15% at cc on increased sales and better profit margins. Revenues in Latin America totaled $233 million, down 1.6% year on year. Sales were marginally higher on an organic basis. The company witnessed certain macroeconomic headwinds in Puerto Rico, Argentina and Brazil along with the transition of distributors in Central America.
Nevertheless, continued consumption growth in cereal, salty snacks, and portable wholesome snacks across Mexico along with stabilization in the Andean markets and market share gains in major categories across Brazil bode well. Notably, the company started ramping up its new production facility in Brazil during the quarter. Adjusted operating profit fell roughly 21% at cc, due to higher costs and impact of absence of the divested businesses.
Revenues in the Asia, Middle East & Africa segment totaled $570 million, up 8.4% year over year. Sales improved about 8% on organic basis, backed by strength in Africa and Asia. However, adjusted operating profit declined 7% at cc. Other Financials Kellogg ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $397 million, long-term debt of $7,195 million and total equity of $3,314 million. For 2019, the company generated cash from operating activities of $1,176 million. 2020 Guidance That said, sales in 2020 are expected to grow 1-2% on an organic basis. Further, adjusted operating profit (at cc) is expected to decline 4% due to divestiture impacts. Kellogg envisions adjusted earnings to drop 3-4% at cc. The expected year-over-year decline was caused by divestiture impacts. Price Performance This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock has gained 29.1% in the past year compared with the industry’s growth of 11.4%.
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