Maple Leaf Foods reports Q3 net earnings of C$32.6M, down 24% from year-ago period as company takes C$13M charge in value of its hogs; sales down 1.8% to C$1.2B

TORONTO , October 31, 2012 (press release) – Maple Leaf Foods Inc. (TSX: MFI) today reported its financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2012.

Adjusted Operating Earnings(1) for the third quarter were $76.3 million compared to $73.3 million last year

Net earnings for the third quarter were $32.6 million, compared to $43.0 million in the third quarter last year

Adjusted Earnings per Share(2) were $0.29 compared to $0.34 last year ($0.27 excluding a $9.8 million tax adjustment associated with a prior acquisition)

"Our third quarter marked a return to operating profit growth in 2012 as we continue to enhance performance in our base business and execute our value creation strategies," said Michael H. McCain, President and CEO. "We are achieving earnings growth in our consumer facing prepared meats and bakery businesses, and managing higher input costs through responsible pricing. While the challenges of consumer bread demand and pork market conditions continue, we are seeing signs of improvement in both."

(1): Adjusted Operating Earnings, a non-IFRS measure, is defined as earnings from operations before restructuring and other related costs and associated gains, other income (expense) and the impact of the change in fair value of non-designated interest rate swaps, unrealized (gains) losses on commodity futures contracts and the change in fair value of biological assets.

(2): Adjusted Earnings per Share ("Adjusted EPS"), a non-IFRS measure, is defined as basic earnings per share adjusted for the impact of restructuring and other related costs and associated gains, the impact of the change in fair value of non-designated interest rate swaps, hedge ineffectiveness recognized in earnings, unrealized (gains) losses on commodity futures contracts, and the change in fair value of biological assets, net of tax and non-controlling interest.

Please refer to the section entitled Reconciliation of Non-IFRS Financial Measures at the end of this news release.

Protein Group

Sales for the Protein Group, which includes the Company's Meat Products Group and Agribusiness Group, declined 0.9% to $837.6 million in the third quarter of 2012, from $845.1 million for the prior year period. Adjusted Operating Earnings were $46.5 million compared to $46.2 million for the third quarter last year. Results for the Company's Meat Products Group and Agribusiness Group should be viewed in combination due to intercompany transactions and correlated factors within these operations.

Meat Products Group

Includes value-added prepared meats, lunch kits; and fresh pork, poultry and turkey products sold to retail, foodservice, industrial and convenience channels. Includes leading Canadian brands such as Maple Leaf ®, Schneiders ® and many leading sub-brands.

Meat Products Group sales for the third quarter declined 2.1% to $761.2 million from $777.2 million for the third quarter last year. After adjusting for the impact of a weaker Canadian dollar, which increased the sales value of pork exports, sales declined 2.9%, primarily due to lower foodservice sales in the prepared meats business.

Adjusted Operating Earnings for the third quarter increased 38.9% to $28.8 million compared to $20.8 million last year, driven by strong earnings growth in the prepared meats and fresh poultry businesses.

Branded sales growth and innovation, as well as operating cost reductions drove margin expansion in the prepared meats business. The Company's network transformation initiatives also contributed to results, although earnings growth was partly offset by lower sales volumes. The Company continues to manage cost inflation through price increases as required.

Sales of higher value products under the Maple Leaf Prime chicken brand and improvements in industry poultry processor margins drove higher earnings in the fresh poultry operations.

Earnings in primary pork processing were consistent with last year as higher pricing and margins in international exports were offset by weaker industry margins in North America.

Agribusiness Group

Consists of Canadian hog production, animal by-product recycling operations including bio-diesel manufacturing and distribution.

Sales in the Agribusiness Group increased 12.6% to $76.5 million for the third quarter compared to $67.9 million last year, reflecting higher toll feed sales.

Adjusted Operating Earnings for the third quarter of 2012 decreased 30.7% to $17.6 million compared to $25.4 million last year. Hog production earnings were lower due to a combination of higher feed costs and lower market prices for hogs. Lower earnings in the by-products recycling operations compared to historically strong levels last year as prices paid for raw materials and operating costs increased.

Bakery Products Group

Includes fresh and frozen bakery products, including breads, rolls, bagels, specialty and artisan breads, sweet goods, and fresh pasta and sauces sold to retail, foodservice and convenience channels. It includes national brands such as Dempster's®, Tenderflake®, Olivieri® and New York Bakery CoTM, and many leading regional brands.

Bakery Products Group sales for the third quarter decreased 3.8% to $401.3 million, compared to $417.0 million last year. After adjusting for the closure of a bakery in the U.K. and currency translation on sales in the U.S. and U.K., sales declined 2.3%, primarily related to lower volume in the fresh bakery business.

Adjusted Operating Earnings for the third quarter of 2012 increased 9.7% to $30.8 million compared to $28.1 million last year, driven by higher earnings in the fresh bakery and North American frozen bakery operations, partly offset by lower earnings in the fresh pasta business. Earnings in the U.K. bakery business were consistent with last year. Results benefited from positive hedging activities for raw materials during the quarter, although the Company continues to experience inflationary costs and projected increases in flour and dairy costs that will require offsetting price increases. Fresh bakery volumes were consistent with the second quarter of 2012, but lower than last year, reflecting industry volume declines. Despite the lower volumes, margins expanded in the fresh bakery business, principally through cost management. The North American frozen bakery business benefited from higher pricing and increased sales volumes compared to last year. In the U.K., improvements from cost reduction strategies, including the closure of a bakery in the first quarter, were offset by lower volumes and costs of commissioning new croissant capacity.

Other Matters

On October 30, 2012, the Company declared a dividend of $0.04 per share payable December 31, 2012 to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 7, 2012. Unless indicated otherwise by the Company in writing on or before the time the dividend is paid, the dividend will be considered an Eligible Dividend for the purposes of the "Enhanced Dividend Tax Credit System".

An investor presentation related to the Company's third quarter financial results is available at www.mapleleaffoods.com and can be found under Investor Relations on the Quarterly Results page. A conference call will be held at 2:30 p.m. EDT on October 31, 2012 to review Maple Leaf Foods' third quarter financial results. To participate in the call, please dial 416-340-8018 or 866-223-7781. For those unable to participate, playback will be made available an hour after the event at 905-694-9451 / 800-408-3053 (Passcode 9670637).

A webcast presentation of the third quarter financial results will also be available at http://www.media-server.com/m/p/joy9ce24

The Company's full financial statements and related Management's Discussion and Analysis are available for download on the Company's website.

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