Food & Drinks

Smucker hit by high coffee prices, helped by Uncrustables

ORRVILLE, OHIO — The J.M. Smucker Co. combated a broad set of challenges to its bottom line in the second quarter ended Oct. 31. In addition to the larger headwinds faced industry-wide with higher input costs and supply chain struggles, the company sustained continuing impacts from the January divestiture of its natural beverage and grains business, the voluntary recall of Jif peanut butter products in May and lower volumes across its premium coffee brands.

The company saw quarterly sales growth fueled by the market strength of its Uncrustables frozen sandwiches, pet food and snacks, and pricing increases in its coffee business.

“Our strong top-line growth was led by our pet and coffee businesses along with robust growth for the Uncrustables brand,” Mark Smucker, president and chief executive officer, said in a pre-recorded earnings call released with the company’s second-quarter results. “These platforms continue to be key enablers of sustained growth and reflect strong execution against our strategy of leading in the attractive categories of pet, coffee and snacking.”

Net income at J.M. Smucker in the second quarter ended Oct. 31 was $191.1 million, equal to $1.79 per share on the common stock, down 7% from $206 million, or $1.90 per share, in the second quarter of fiscal 2022.

Gross profit eased 1% in the quarter. Operating income decreased $18.4 million, or 6%, in the quarter, primarily reflecting the drop in gross profit and a $6.6 million increase in selling, distribution, and administrative expenses, the company said.

Second-quarter sales rose 8% to $2.21 billion, compared with $2.05 billion in the year-ago quarter. The increase primarily was driven by pricing actions in the US Retail segments and International and Away from Home, partially offset by a decrease in volume/mix in US Retail Coffee.

In US Retail Pet Food, the company’s largest business unit, segment profit rose 21% in the second quarter to $120.1 million.  Sales were $765.2 million, up 9% from the same quarter a year ago.

Mr. Smucker highlighted cat food sales, led by the Meow Mix brand, dog snacks sales, led by the Milk Bone brand, and dog food sales led by the Kibbles ‘n Bits and Nutrish brands.

US Retail Coffee segment profit dropped 10% to $187.7 million. Coffee sales were $709.8 million, up 10% from the year-ago quarter.

In a Nov. 21 conference call with analysts, Mr. Smucker said the company saw a shift in consumer behavior away from premium coffee in the second quarter.

“There may have been some folks brewing more drip coffee,” he said. “We don’t necessarily view that as a sustainable trend. Obviously, brewer penetration in the Keurig brewers has grown significantly over the last several quarters.

“Price gaps in the premium coffee space have continued to close. And so, we would expect over the subsequent quarters to continue to see growth for our Dunkin’ business as well as our single-serve business.”

During the conference call, Tucker Marshall, chief financial officer, said the coffee business also felt the effects of higher commodity costs.

“Second quarter did have a higher level of inflation, primarily due to the impact of green coffee,” Mr. Tucker said. “We, in the green coffee space, recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis that cost inflation, and we put the predominance of our pricing actions in place prior to the beginning of our fiscal year, so that we believe that we are recovering our inflation as we come through the fiscal year.”

US Retail Consumer Foods segment profit was $100.3 million, down 10% from the year-ago quarter. In the US Retail Consumer Foods business unit, sales were $432.2 million, a decrease of 2% from the second quarter of fiscal 2022.

“US Retail Consumer Foods segment profit decreased 10%, primarily reflecting higher manufacturing, commodity and ingredient, and packaging costs, inclusive of costs related to the Jif peanut butter product recall and the noncomparable segment profit in the prior year related to the divested businesses,” Mr. Marshall said. “The decrease was partially offset by higher net price realization, lower marketing spend and favorable volume mix.”

Net sales growth was led by Uncrustables Sandwiches and Smucker’s fruit spreads, which grew 21% and 19%, respectively, partially offset by a 4% decline for Jif peanut butter.

International and Away From Home segment profit rose 3% to $41.5 million. Sales were $297.9 million, up 14% from the same quarter a year ago. 

“The Away From Home business net sales increased 19% on a comparable basis, driven by double-digit growth for coffee and Uncrustables sandwiches,” Mr. Marshall said. “The International operating segment net sales increased 15% on a comparable basis, primarily due to pet food and pet snacks, baking mixes and ingredients, and coffee.”

Smucker raised its earnings guidance for fiscal 2023. The company said it now expects full-year adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $8.35 to $8.75.

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