Missouri-based food producer Aurora Foods today [Wednesday] announced a decline in net sales for the third quarter ended 30 September to US$184.9m (2001: $200.8m).

The company also reported a net loss of $0.6m, or $0.01 per share, for the same period, an improvement from the net loss of $3.2m, or $0.05 per share, for the third quarter of 2001.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) was $37.2m for the quarter, which the company said exceeds the minimum required under its bank covenants. This compares with EBITDA of $46.6m for the year-ago period. Aurora Foods said the decline in EBITDA stemmed from higher trade promotion costs and less favourable customer and product mix during the quarter.

The company conceded it does not now expect to achieve prior EBITDA guidance of $160-5m for 2002, and said it would no longer provide specific EBITDA guidance. However, in 2003 the company expects to report a material improvement in year-over-year EBITDA performance resulting from trade spending efficiencies, cost effectiveness programs, a sharper focus on profitable growth, and new leadership, the company said.

Aurora secured $62.6m of new capital in July from its banks and major investors, shoring up its financial position considerably. The company said its divestiture process was on track.