• Q4 and FY losses narrow
  • Sales accelerate in Q4
  • CEO expects "increasing momentum" from brands

Dutch food group Wessanen saw its shares fall this morning (24 February) despite the company's losses narrowing in the fourth quarter of 2010 and over the year as a whole.

Wessanen, owner of brands like Beckers frozen food and So Good soy milk, posted a fourth-quarter net loss of EUR8.9m (US$12.3m) - down from EUR111.8m a year earlier.

The company's annual losses stood at EUR6.1m in 2010, compared to EUR219.7m in 2009, a year when the business suffered debt issues and recorded impairment costs.

Wessanen made an operating loss from continuing operations of EUR12.1m in the fourth quarter of 2010, lower than the EUR43.7m recorded in the same period in 2009. Over the year as whole, Wessanen booked an operating profit of EUR5.3m - against a loss of EUR44.4m in 2009.

Wessanen said its "normalised" EBIT in 2010 - excluding impairment charges, restructuring costs and other one-off items - was EUR19.8m. In 2009, it stood at EUR13.3m.

Revenue from continuing operations rose 2.1% to EUR172.5m in the fourth quarter of 2010 - and by 1.4% to EUR712.2m for the year, compared to 2009.

In 2009, Wessanen also said it would quit the US and the company started 2010 with a stated ambition to become the "organic food champion in Europe".

CEO Piet Hein Merckens said today that 2010 had been a year in which Wessanen had looked to "strengthen and revitalise our core business".

"We divested most of our North American operations and we have seen the first positive results of our focused actions taken in Europe come through. Our underlying results clearly improved compared to 2009 and our financial position was strengthened considerably. For 2011, we are expecting increasing momentum for our brands and products," he said.

However, Wessanen's shares were down 1.9% at EUR2.64 at 10:28 CET.

Click here for the full statement from Wessanen.