Cott returns to profit in fourth quarter, year

by Staff
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TORONTO — With the help of price increases and increased volume in the United Kingdom and Mexico, Cott Corp. returned to profit in the fourth quarter and full-year 2009.

For the year ended Jan. 2, the company had income of $81.5 million, equal to $1.10 per share on the common stock, which compared with a loss of $122.8 million during the previous year. Revenue for the year was $1,596.7 million, down 3% from $1,648.1 million during fiscal 2008.

“I am pleased that the fourth quarter continued the trend of improved results and allowed us to finish what has been an excellent year,” said Jerry Fowden, chief executive officer. “As we begin 2010, we are focusing on the operational objectives that worked so well for us in 2009 and on pursuing our goals for smart new business wins.”

For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 2, the company posted income of $14 million, or 18c per share, which compared with a loss of $12.1 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Revenue during the quarter was $386 million, down 4% from $371.4 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

“The private label price gap relative to national brands widened significantly on soft drinks in North America during the fourth quarter of 2008, boosting our short-term volumes in the fourth quarter of 2008 and into the first quarter of 2009 until we followed with our pricing,” Mr. Fowden said. “This category dynamic, coupled with the impact of an additional week compared to 2008, creates an unusual prior-year comparison for the fourth quarter of 2009. However, we were still able to deliver significantly improved gross margins, operating profit and cash flow.”

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