Bonduelle sales up, but Q1 disappoints

Bonduelle sales up, but Q1 disappoints

French vegetable producer Bonduelle has booked a increase in first-quarter sales but failed to meet market expectations due to a weak like-for-like performance.

Sales rose to EUR448.4m (US$574m) in the three months to the end of September, up 7.3%. Acquisitions contributed 6.2 percentage points of the growth, while Bonduelle benefited from a two-point gain on currency exchange.

The company said that its first-quarter performance was "in-line" with its annual growth target of 8%.

However, like-for-like sales were down 0.9%. The decline was led by weakness in Europe, where like-for-like revenue dropped 1.8%. Bonduelle also revealed its non-Eurozone LFL sales came in at a rather lacklustre 1.3%.

The company confirmed its target of achieving 8% full-year sales growth on a constant-currency basis and operating profit growth of 5-10%.

Nevertheless, Kepler analyst Laetitia Delaye told just-food that, with sales excluding currency exchange up only 5.3%, Bonduelle failed to hit the mark with its first-quarter performance. Total sales came in 4% below Kepler's expectations, Delaye said.

"Looking at categories, the main disappointment was driven by the canned division, hit by the wet summer weather [which] affected corn consumption, product shortages (in particular in green beans) and generally poor consumption trends in Europe," Delaye wrote in a note to investors.

Following a conversation with management, Delaye concluded a number of "technical elements" explained part of the weaker than expected performance. One week less trading in the US trimmed overall LFL sales by 1.4% while a weak harvest hit availability in Europe and North America.