Lifeway extended distribution to the UK in 2013

Lifeway extended distribution to the UK in 2013

US cultured dairy products group Lifeway Foods has reported "record" annual sales but saw the cost of milk eat into its profits.

Lifeway's net sales jumped 20% in 2013, reaching US$97.5m. However, the company's gross profit margin slipped from 33% to 28%. The firm pointed to the cost of conventional and organic milk for the lower margins.

Its operating income dropped 9% to $8m, while its net income was down 10.7% at $5m.

CEO Julie Smolyansky was upbeat about Lifeway's prospects in 2014. "We remain committed to wellness and continue to see positive business trends for Lifeway. We are already off to a strong start for 2014 and expect a 24% increase in net sales for the first quarter from the prior year," she said. "I am very excited for our future opportunities and believe we are well positioned for long-term sustainable growth that will allow us to increase value for shareholders."

Click here for a just the answer interview with Smolyansky, held at the Anuga trade fair in Germany in October.

Show the press release

MORTON GROVE, Ill.March 31, 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 fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. 

"We are very pleased to report record net revenues for 2013, the highest in the Company's history, and are confident that our strong growth will continue in fiscal 2014," said Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods, Inc.  "We are focused on our strategic plan to create innovative, healthy and nutritious food products for our customers while expanding distribution in the U.S. and abroad. We remain committed to wellness and continue to see positive business trends for Lifeway. We are already off to a strong start for 2014 and expect a 24% increase in net sales for the first quarter from the prior year. I am very excited for our future opportunities and believe we are well positioned for long-term sustainable growth that will allow us to increase value for shareholders."

Fourth Quarter Results
Fourth quarter of 2013 gross sales increased 26% to $28.9 million compared to $22.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2012.  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™.

Fourth quarter 2013 total consolidated net sales increased 26% to $26.3 million from $20.88 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. 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.

Cost of goods sold as a percentage of net sales, excluding depreciation expense, were approximately 80% during the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to approximately 65% during the same period in 2012. Gross profit for the fourth quarter of 2013 decreased 30% to approximately $4.8 million, compared to approximately $6.0 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year. The gross profit margin was 18% in the fourth quarter 2013 compared to 29% in the fourth quarter of 2012. 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 30% higher during the fourth quarter 2013 when compared to the same period in 2013. 

Operating expenses as a percentage of net sales were approximately 20% during the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to approximately 24% during the same period in 2012.  This was primarily attributable to a decrease in selling expenses, which decreased by $0.2 million to $3.0 million during the fourth quarter of 2013, from $3.2 million during the same period in 2012.

The Company reported a loss in operations of $0.4 million during the fourth quarter of 2013, a decrease of $2.2 million from reported income from operations of $1.8 million during the same period in 2012.

Provision for income tax was a benefit of $0.4 million for the fourth quarter 2013  compared to $0.7 million or a 40% effective tax rate during the same period in 2012.

Total net loss was $0.5 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, for the three-month period ended December 31, 2013 compared to net income of $1.1 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, in the same period in 2012. Net loss includes a $0.3 million pre-tax loss on disposition of assets due to the closing of a Starfruit store location. This is viewed as a one-time, non-cash expense. 

2013 Year End Results
Total consolidated gross sales increased 21% or $19.2 million to approximately $109.0 million during the twelve-month period ended December 31, 2013 from $90.0 million during the same twelve-month period in 2012.  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™. 

Total consolidated net sales increased 20% or $16.2 million to $97.5 million during the twelve-month period ended December 31, 2013 from $81.4 million during the same twelve- month period in 2012.

Cost of goods sold as a percentage of net sales, excluding depreciation expense, were approximately 70% during the twelve- month period ended December 31, 2013, compared to approximately 65% during the same period in 2011. Gross profit for 2013 increased 4% to $27.6 million, compared to $26.6 million in 2012. The Company's gross profit margin was 28% compared to 33% in 2012.

Total operating income decreased $0.8 million, or approximately 9%, to $8.0 million during the twelve-month period ended December 31, 2013, from $8.8 million during the same period in 2012. The gross profit margin decline was primarily attributable to the cost of conventional and organic milk, our largest raw material.  The total cost of milk was approximately 25% higher in 2013 versus 2012.

Total net income was $5.0 million, or $0.30 per diluted share, for the twelve-month period ended December 31, 2013 compared to $5.6 million, or $0.34 per diluted share, in the same period in 2012.

Balance Sheet/Cash Flow Highlights
The Company had a net increase in cash and cash equivalents of  approximately $1.0 million during the twelve-month period ended December 31, 2013 compared to a net increase in cash and cash equivalents of $1.2 million during the same period in 2012.  The Company had cash and cash equivalents of approximately $3.3 million as of December 31, 2013 compared to cash and cash equivalents of $2.3 million as of December 31, 2012.

Total stockholder's equity was approximately $42.9 million as of December 31, 2013, which is an increase of approximately $3.6 million when compared to December 31, 2012.  This is primarily due the increase in retained earnings of approximately $3.7 million when compared to December 31, 2012.

Conference Call
The Company will host a conference call to discuss these results with additional comments and details onMonday, March 31, 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 April 14, 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, andEdward 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 fifth 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.

Original source: Lifeway Foods