Pinnacle Foods Inc. Reports Q4 and Full Year 2015 Results

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Company Provides Guidance for Another Strong Year in 2016

PARSIPPANY, N.J., Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Pinnacle Foods Inc. (NYSE: PF) today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 27, 2015 and provided its outlook for adjusted diluted EPS for the full year of 2016 in the range of $2.08 to $2.13, representing growth of approximately 10% at the midpoint.

Full Year 2015 Highlights

  • Grew consolidated net sales 2.5% and North America Retail net sales 3.3%, both including the benefit of the Gardein acquisition
  • Gained overall composite market share for the fourth consecutive year, fueled by strength of both existing and new products
  • Expanded adjusted gross margin approximately 80 basis points, driven by strong productivity, higher net price realization and favorable product mix
  • Drove adjusted diluted EPS growth of 10% to $1.92, despite an approximate $0.03 headwind from foreign exchange
  • Delivered net cash provided by operating activities of $373 million and reduced net leverage by 0.4x to 3.8x
  • Completed the previously-announced acquisition of Boulder Brands in January 2016, expanding the Company's presence in growing and complementary health and wellness categories, with clear line of sight to synergies in 2016 and 2017
  • Added two new independent directors to the Company's Board of Directors, following Blackstone's final sale of its shares and its departure from the Board

Commenting on the results, Pinnacle Foods Chief Executive Officer Bob Gamgort stated, "This past year was another strong one for Pinnacle, driven by strength of the base business, highly-successful innovation and the addition of Gardein to our portfolio.  For the fourth consecutive year, we grew our composite market share, and we again delivered strong gross margin expansion and double-digit growth in adjusted diluted EPS."

"We are excited about our recent Boulder Brands acquisition, which provides a stronger presence in faster-growing health and wellness categories and a rich source of both acquisition synergies and other cost savings opportunities.  In 2016, in addition to improving Boulder's cost structure, our focus will be on streamlining the portfolio and building the foundation for accelerated growth in 2017.  As a result, we expect Boulder to be modestly accretive this year, with significant accretion thereafter," continued Gamgort.

Full-year Fiscal 2015 Results
Consolidated net sales for the year increased 2.5% to $2.66 billion, compared to net sales of $2.59 billion in fiscal 2014.  This growth reflected a 2.3% benefit from Gardein and higher net price realization of 1.3%, partially offset by lower volume/mix of 0.7% and unfavorable foreign currency translation of 0.4%.

Net sales for the Company's North America Retail business, which is comprised of the Birds Eye Frozen and Duncan Hines Grocery segments, advanced 3.3%, reflecting a 2.6% benefit from the Gardein acquisition and higher net price realization of 1.3%, partially offset by unfavorable foreign currency translation of 0.4% and lower volume/mix of 0.2%.

For the fourth consecutive year, Pinnacle's retail consumption outpaced the performance of the Company's categories, driving composite market share growth of approximately 50 basis points in 2015.  This performance reflected strength of both existing and new products and was driven by significant market share growth for the Birds Eye Frozen segment, while market share for the Duncan Hines Grocery segment was even with year-ago.

Gross profit for the year increased 8.7% to $740.5 million, or 27.9% of net sales, compared to gross profit of $681.2 million, or 26.3% of net sales, in the year-ago period.  Excluding items affecting comparability, gross profit advanced 5.4% to $749.8 million and, as a percentage of net sales, gross profit margin expanded by approximately 80 basis points to 28.2%.  This performance reflected the benefit of productivity, higher net price realization and favorable product mix, partially offset by input cost inflation and the unfavorable impact of foreign exchange.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) declined to $424.7 million for the year, compared to $512.3 million in 2014, due to the prior year benefit of $163 million associated with the termination of the Company's merger agreement with The Hillshire Brands Company.  Excluding the termination fee and other items affecting comparability, EBIT increased 4.6% to $443.1 million, reflecting the growth in gross profit, partially offset by higher selling, general and administrative expenses, including the impact of Gardein.  Also impacting the growth in EBIT was the year-ago benefit of a vacation policy change totaling $6.5 million.

Adjusted EBITDA grew 5.5% to $531.6 million in 2015, compared to $504.0 million in 2014, despite the vacation policy benefit in the year-ago period.  Adjusted EBITDA is a Non-GAAP measure defined below under "Non-GAAP Financial Measures," and is reconciled to net earnings in the tables that accompany this release.

Net interest expense for the year declined 8.1% to $88.3 million, reflecting the benefit of the Company's deleveraging and related interest rate step-down on its term loans in late 2014.  The effective tax rate for the year, excluding items affecting comparability, was 36.6%, compared to 37.9% in the year-ago period, due to qualifying in 2015 for the Domestic Production Activities Deduction and foreign tax credit associated with the Company's Canadian operations.

GAAP net earnings declined to $212.5 million for the year, compared to $248.4 million in 2014, reflecting the prior year benefit of the aforementioned termination fee.  Excluding items affecting comparability, net earnings advanced 10.6% to $224.9 million, compared to net earnings of $203.4 million in the year-ago period, while diluted earnings per share increased 10.3% to $1.92.  This performance reflected the strong growth in EBIT, as well as a lower effective tax rate and lower interest expense.

Net cash provided by operating activities totaled $373 million in 2015 versus $551 million in 2014, which included the net cash benefit of $151 million from the termination fee.

Fourth Quarter Results
Net sales in the fourth quarter of 2015 increased 2.4% to $722.5 million, compared to net sales of $705.3 million in the year-ago period.  This growth reflected a 1.6% benefit versus year-ago from approximately six extra weeks of Gardein sales in 2015, as well as higher net price realization of 2.0%.  Partially offsetting this growth were lower volume/mix of 0.8% and unfavorable foreign currency translation of 0.4%.

North America Retail net sales advanced 2.7% to $639.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $622.7 million in the year-ago period, reflecting a 1.9% benefit from Gardein and higher net price realization of 2.1%, partially offset by lower volume/mix of 0.8% and unfavorable foreign currency translation of 0.5%.

Gross profit in the fourth quarter of 2015 increased 18.3% to $222.8 million, or 30.8% of net sales, compared to gross profit of $188.4 million, or 26.7% of net sales, in the year-ago period.  Excluding items affecting comparability, gross profit advanced 7.9% to $224.0 million and, as a percentage of net sales, gross profit margin expanded by approximately 160 basis points to 31.0%.  This performance reflected the benefit of productivity, higher net price realization, favorable product mix and Wish-Bone synergies, partially offset by input cost inflation and the unfavorable impact of foreign exchange.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in the fourth quarter of 2015 increased to $148.6 million, compared to $93.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.  Excluding items affecting comparability, EBIT in the fourth quarter advanced 7.1% to $152.6 million, compared to $142.5 million in 2014.  This performance reflected the growth in gross profit, partially offset by higher consumer marketing.  Also impacting the growth in EBIT was the year-ago benefit of the vacation policy change totaling $6.5 million.  Adjusted EBITDA grew 7.2% to $174.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $163.1 million in the year-ago period.

Net interest expense for the quarter was even with year-ago at $22.4 million.  The effective tax rate for the quarter, excluding items affecting comparability, was 36.6%, compared to 37.4% in the year-ago period.  This was due to qualifying in 2015 for the Domestic Production Activities Deduction and foreign tax credit associated with the Company's Canadian operations.

Net earnings in the fourth quarter increased to $79.2, compared with net earnings of $36.1 million in the year-ago period.  Excluding items affecting comparability, net earnings for the fourth quarter increased 9.8% to $82.5 million, compared to net earnings of $75.2 million in the year-ago period, while diluted earnings per share increased 9.4% to $0.70.

Net cash provided by operating activities totaled $162 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $138 million in the prior year, reflecting higher earnings partially offset by higher working capital.

Fourth Quarter Segment Results

Birds Eye Frozen
Net sales for the Birds Eye Frozen segment advanced 8.3% to $343.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $317.4 million in the year-ago period, reflecting growth of 4.7% from the base business and a benefit of 3.6% from the Gardein acquisition.  The strong base business performance reflected higher volume/mix of 2.5% and higher net price realization of 2.2%.  Strong growth of the Birds Eye franchise and Mrs. Paul's and Van de Kamp's seafood was partially offset by lower sales of the segment's Foundation Brand portfolio.  Innovation launched earlier in the year - namely, Birds Eye Flavor Full vegetables, Birds Eye Protein Blends side dishes, Birds Eye Disney-themed side dishes for kids, and premium-tier Birds Eye Voila! varieties - fueled the growth of the Birds Eye franchise in the quarter.

EBIT for the Birds Eye Frozen segment increased approximately 44% to $78.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $54.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.  Excluding items affecting comparability, EBIT advanced 12.9% to $80.1 million, reflecting the strong net sales growth, productivity savings and higher net price realization, partially offset by input cost inflation, higher consumer marketing and the impact of the vacation policy benefit in the prior year.

Duncan Hines Grocery
Net sales for the Duncan Hines Grocery segment declined 3.1% to $295.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $305.3 million in the year-ago period.  This performance reflected higher net price realization of 2.0%, lower volume/mix of 4.2% and unfavorable foreign currency translation of 0.9%.

Lower sales of Duncan Hines baking products, primarily due to category weakness, were partially offset by higher sales of the segment's Foundation Brands - namely Armour canned meat and Nalley chili products.  Also impacting the quarter were lower sales of the Company's Canadian business, driven by the unfavorable impact of foreign currency translation.

EBIT for the Duncan Hines Grocery segment advanced approximately 33% to $68.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $51.5 million in the year-ago period.  Excluding items affecting comparability, EBIT increased 0.5% to $68.8 million, due to productivity savings, higher net price realization and Wish-Bone synergies, partially offset by lower volume, input cost inflation and the impacts of unfavorable foreign exchange and the vacation policy benefit in the prior year.

Specialty Foods
Net sales for the Specialty Foods segment increased 0.3% to $82.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $82.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, driven by higher net price realization of 1.1%, partially offset by lower volume/mix of 0.8%.  This performance reflected higher net sales of the Company's foodservice business, offset by lower net sales of snacks.

EBIT for the Specialty Foods segment increased approximately 22% to $9.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $7.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.  Excluding items affecting comparability, EBIT increased 0.5% to $9.1 million, reflecting the modest increase in net sales and productivity savings, partially offset by input cost inflation and the vacation policy benefit in the prior year.

Boulder Brands Acquisition
On January 15, 2016, Pinnacle Foods completed its previously-announced acquisition of Boulder Brands.  As such, Boulder will be consolidated with Pinnacle for 49 weeks in 2016, due to the mid-January acquisition closing and transitioning Boulder to Pinnacle's fiscal calendar, which ends a week earlier on December 25, 2016.  During this time period, the Company expects the Boulder Brands acquisition to contribute approximately $0.05 to adjusted diluted EPS, based on the following assumptions:

  • A Boulder SKU rationalization effort, critical to capturing synergies and building the foundation for accelerated growth, will impact Boulder's 2016 net sales, which are estimated to be in the range of $460 million to $480 million
  • Interest expense associated with the acquisition is expected to approximate $45 million, including the impact of the 25 basis point interest rate step-up on Pinnacle's existing term loan debt, due to net leverage increasing above the 4.25x threshold.
  • Capital expenditures are expected to approximate $20 million.

Outlook for 2016
Including the benefit of the Boulder Brands acquisition, the Company expects 2016 to be another year of above-algorithm growth, with adjusted diluted EPS in the range of $2.08 to $2.13.  Significant innovation and the related new product introductory expenses planned for the first quarter, primarily behind Wish-Bone, will weigh on adjusted diluted EPS in the quarter, with the remaining quarters of the year expected to post strong growth.

The following assumptions are incorporated into the Company's full year outlook:

  • Input cost inflation for the year is estimated in the range of 2% to 3%, including Boulder Brands.
  • Productivity for the year is estimated in the range of 3.5% to 4.0% of cost of products sold, including Boulder Brands organic cost savings, but excluding acquisition synergies. 
  • Interest expense for the year is estimated to approximate $140 million, including Boulder Brands.
  • The effective tax rate for the year is expected to be comparable to, or slightly above, the Company's 2015 effective tax rate of 36.6%, reflecting a higher effective tax rate structure for Boulder Brands.
  • The weighted average diluted share count for the year is estimated at approximately 118 million.
  • Capital expenditures for the full year are expected to be in the range of $135 million to $145 million, including Boulder Brands and approximately $30 million for previously-disclosed Gardein capacity expansion.

Conference Call Information
The Company will host a conference call on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 9:30AM (ET), to discuss the results with members of the investment community.  Investors and analysts may access the call by dialing (866) 802-4355 within the United States or Canada and (703) 639-1323 internationally and referencing the conference call name:  Pinnacle Foods Q4 Earnings Call.  A replay of the call will be available, beginning February 25, 2016 at 1:00 PM (ET) until March 10, 2016, by dialing (888) 266-2081 or (703) 925-2533 and referencing access code 1669254. Access to a live audio webcast and replay of the event will be available in the Investor Center section of the Company's corporate website, www.pinnaclefoods.com.

About Pinnacle Foods Inc.
In more than 85% of American households, consumers reach for Pinnacle Foods brands. Pinnacle Foods is ranked on Fortune Magazine's 2015 Top 1000 companies list. We are a leading producer, marketer and distributor of high-quality branded food products, which have been trusted household names for decades. Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, our business employs an average of 5400 employees. Our Duncan Hines Grocery segment manages brands such as Duncan Hines® baking mixes and frostings, Vlasic® and Vlasic Farmer's Garden® shelf-stable pickles, Wish-Bone® and Western® salad dressings, Mrs. Butterworth's® and Log Cabin® table syrups, Armour® canned meats, Brooks® and Nalley® chili and chili ingredients, Duncan Hines® Comstock® and Wilderness® pie and pastry fruit fillings and Open Pit® barbecue sauces. Our Birds Eye Frozen segment manages brands such as Birds Eye®, gardein™, Birds Eye Steamfresh®, C&W®, McKenzie's®, and Freshlike® frozen vegetables, Birds Eye Voila!® complete bagged frozen meals, Van de Kamp's® and Mrs. Paul's® frozen prepared seafood, Hungry-Man® frozen dinners and entrees, Aunt Jemima® frozen breakfasts, Lender's® frozen and refrigerated bagels, and Celeste® frozen pizza. Our Specialty Foods segment manages Tim's Cascade Snacks®, Hawaiian® kettle style potato chips, Erin's® popcorn, Snyder of Berlin® and Husman's® snacks in addition to our food service and private label businesses. The acquisition of Boulder Brands adds well-known brands such as Glutino®, Udi's Gluten Free®, Earth Balance®, EVOL®, and Smart Balance® to the Pinnacle Foods portfolio.  Further information is available at www.pinnaclefoods.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
This release may contain statements that predict or forecast future events or results, depend on future events for their accuracy or otherwise contain "forward-looking information." The words "estimates," "expects," "contemplates," "anticipates," "projects," "plans," "intends," "believes," "forecasts," "may," "should," and variations of such words or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are made based on management's current expectations and beliefs concerning future events and various assumptions and are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results may differ materially as a result of various factors, some of which are beyond our control, including but not limited to: general economic and business conditions, deterioration of the credit and capital markets, industry trends, our leverage and changes in our leverage, interest rate changes, changes in our ownership structure, competition, the loss of any of our major customers or suppliers, changes in demand for our products, changes in distribution channels or competitive conditions in the markets where we operate, costs of integrating acquisitions, loss of our intellectual property rights, fluctuations in price and supply of raw materials, seasonality, our reliance on co-packers to meet our manufacturing needs, availability of qualified personnel, changes in the cost of compliance with laws and regulations, including environmental laws and regulations, and the other risks and uncertainties detailed in our Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 25, 2016 and subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. There may be other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements.  We assume no obligation to update the information contained in this announcement, except as required by applicable law.

 

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