Smart Balance hits Boulder earnings

Smart Balance hits Boulder earnings

One-off charges related to Boulder Brands' under-performing Smart Balance brand have led the US food group to generate an operating loss in the third quarter of the year.

The results follow a profit warning from Boulder, which also owns the gluten-free brands Udi's and Glutino, two weeks ago.

Formally announcing the numbers for the quarter to 30 September today (6 November), Boulder said its Smart Balance "continued to decline more" than the overall spreads category in the US. Boulder has decided to substitute the "better-performing" Earth Balance brand for Smart Balance items. The move resulted in impairment charges of US$150.5m, of which $113.5 is not tax deductible.

As a consequence, Boulder reported an operating loss of $138.1m in the third quarter, down from $8.4m in the comparable period of last year. Adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter of 2014 was $20.9m.

The company's top-line trends were more positive. Net sales rose to $133.9m, an increase of 13% over the third quarter of 2013.

Chairman and CEO Stephen Hughes said the group was "disappointed" with its recent performance. "We faced a number of simultaneous headwinds this quarter, including the challenging spreads environment, the mix shift impact of our lower-margin but faster-growing natural segment, and continued commodity pressure in our gluten-free business."

He added alterations to the group's inventory management would prove a drag in the fourth quarter. As recently announced, for the fourth quarter of 2014, the company expects sales to be in the range of $132-137m. Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter is expected to be in the range of $18-20m and non-GAAP earnings per share are forecast at $0.04-0.06.

Looking ahead for the full year 2015, the company expects earnings per share to be in the range of $0.25 to $0.29 on net sales of $575 -585m.

Shares in Boulder dipped 1.88% at 12:25 ET, falling to $8.37.

Click here to view the announcement from the company.

To read why Dean Best thinks Boulder should consider the sale of the Smart Balance brand, click here.