Lifeway Foods is a supplier of Kefir products

Lifeway Foods is a supplier of Kefir products

The cost of milk remains a pressure on profits at Lifeway Foods, with first-quarter profits at the US kefir manufacturer down year-on-year.

Net profit for the three months to the end of March stood at US$660,000, down from $2.4m a year earlier.

Operating profit also fell, down by more than two-thirds, as Lifeway battled "record" milk prices.

Lifeway's top line was healthier, with net sales up 20% at $29.1m.

CEO Julie Smolyansky said Lifeway was confident it would see its results improve this year compared to 2013.

"The progress we have made in product innovation and the positive consumer response to our products has positioned us well to capitalise on our growth opportunities. We continue to add new distribution in the US and to expand Lifeway's kefir probiotic reach. Looking ahead, our team remains committed to delivering increased financial results and we expect fiscal 2014 to be another record year."

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Lifeway Foods Announces First Quarter 2014 Financial Results 

First Quarter Gross Sales Increase 16% to $32.1 Million

First Quarter Net Sales Increase 20% to $29.1 Million

MORTON GROVE, Ill., May 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Lifeway Foods, Inc., (Nasdaq: LWAY), a leading supplier of cultured dairy products known as kefir and organic kefir, today announced results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2014. 

"We are pleased to report our results for the first quarter in which we achieved robust sales growth," said Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods, Inc. "I am impressed with our team's ability to closely manage expenses despite increased margin pressure due to record high milk prices. The progress we have made in product innovation and the positive consumer response to our products has positioned us well to capitalize on our growth opportunities. We continue to add new distribution in the US and to expand Lifeway's kefir probiotic reach. Looking ahead, our team remains committed to delivering increased financial results and we expect fiscal 2014 to be another record year."

First Quarter Results

First quarter of 2014 gross sales increased approximately 16% to $32.1 million compared to $27.6 million for the first quarter of 2013.  This increase is primarily attributable to increased sales and awareness of the Company's flagship line, Kefir, as well as ProBugs® Organic Kefir for kids and BioKefir™.

First quarter total consolidated net sales increased approximately 20% to $29.1 million from $24.4 million in the first quarter of 2013.  Net sales are recorded as gross sales less promotional activities such as slotting fees paid, couponing, spoilage and promotional allowances as well as early payment terms given to customers.  The total allowance for promotions and discounts in the first quarter of 2014 was approximately $2.9 million or 9% of gross sales, compared to $3.2 million or approximately 12% of gross sales in the same period last year.

Cost of goods sold as a percentage of net sales, excluding depreciation expense, were approximately 74% during the first quarter of 2014, compared to approximately 63% during the same period in 2013. Gross profit for the first quarter of 2014 decreased 18% to approximately $7.1 million, compared to approximately $8.6 million in the first quarter of the prior year. The gross profit margin decreased to 24% in the first quarter 2014 versus 35% in the first quarter of 2013. The decrease was primarily attributable to the increased cost of conventional milk, the Company's largest raw material.  The total cost of milk was approximately 35% higher during the first quarter 2014 when compared to the same period in 2013. 

Operating expenses as a percentage of net sales were approximately 21% during the first quarter of 2014, compared to approximately 20% during the same period in 2013.  This was primarily attributable to an increase in selling related expenses, which increased approximately 24% to $3.5 million during the first quarter of 2014, from $2.8 million during the same period in 2013.

The Company reported income from operations of $1.0 million during the first quarter of 2014 compared to $3.7 million during the same period in 2013.

Provision for income tax was $0.3 million or a 34% effective tax rate for the first quarter compared to a provision for income tax of $1.4 million or a 37% effective tax rate during the same period in 2013.

Total net income was $0.7 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, for the three-month period ended March 31, 2014 compared to $2.4 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, in the same period in 2013.

Balance Sheet/Cash Flow Highlights

The Company had cash and cash equivalents of $2.5 million as of March 31, 2014 compared to cash and cash equivalents of $3.3 million as of December 31, 2013.

Total stockholder's equity was $43.6 million as of March 31, 2014, which is an increase of $0.7 million when compared to December 31, 2013.  This is primarily due to the increase in retained earnings of $0.7 million when compared to December 31, 2013.

Conference Call

The Company will host a conference call to discuss these results with additional comments and details on Monday, May 12, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The call will be broadcast live over the Internet hosted at the Investor Relations section of Lifeway Foods' website at www.lifeway.net, and will be archived online through May 26, 2014. In addition, listeners may dial 877-407-3982 in North America, and international listeners may dial 201-493-6780. Participants from the Company will be Julie Smolyansky, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Edward Smolyansky, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

About Lifeway Foods

Lifeway Foods, Inc. (Nasdaq: LWAY), recently named one of Fortune Small Business' Fastest Growing Companies for the sixth consecutive year, is America's leading supplier of the cultured dairy products known as kefir and organic kefir. Lifeway Kefir is a dairy beverage that contains 10 exclusive live and active probiotic cultures plus ProBoost™. In addition to its line of Kefir products, the company produces a variety of Frozen Kefir and probiotic cheese products. Lifeway also sells frozen kefir, kefir smoothies and kefir parfaits through its Starfruit™ retail stores.

Find Lifeway Foods, Inc. on Facebook: www.facebook.com/lifewaykefir 

Follow Lifeway Foods on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lifeway_kefir 

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/lifewaykefir.

Original source: Lifeway Foods