Thomasville, Ga-based baked goods giant Flowers Foods generated net income of US$1.7m, US$.06/share, for its 16-week Q1, ended 20 April 2002, compared to a loss of US$20.7m, US$.69/share for the Q1 2001.

Sales were US$463.6m, a drop from the US$466m reported for the Q1 a year ago.

The company’s fresh baked foods unit, Flowers Bakeries, reported EBITDA of US$38.8m, a 15.5% improvement, even though sales decreased compared to the same quarter last year.

“Flowers Bakeries continues to improve its performance,” said CEO and chairman Amos R. McMullian: “A favourable product mix shift contributed to Q1 results as did Flowers Bakeries’ continued operational improvements. Flowers Bakeries’ growth in branded sales was offset by declines in foodservice sales and sweet goods.”

Mrs. Smith Bakeries, which produces frozen baked foods and fresh snack cakes, incurred a loss of US$2m before EBITDA, compared to the EBITDA of US$1.3m reported for last year’s Q1. Mrs. Smith’s dollar sales were down from last year, and EBITDA was negatively impacted by start-up costs at the Spartanburg, SC, bakery related to the integration of production from the company’s closed Pembroke, NC, bakery.

“While not obvious due to the Spartanburg start-up costs and a slow economy in January and February,” McMullian said, “Mrs. Smith’s Q1 performance was encouraging. Foodservice and in-store bakery sales increased and operations at plants other than Spartanburg stabilised. Mrs. Smith’s now is focused on reducing costs. We look forward to improved performance at Mrs. Smith’s as the year unfolds.”

Company management expects the next three quarters to be closer to the company’s target sales growth levels of 2% to 4% at Flowers Bakeries and 5% to 7% at Mrs. Smith’s Bakeries. Flowers Foods continues to expect EBITDA for 2002 of US$134m to US$140m and earnings per share for the year of US$0.93 to US$1.06.