Birds Eye acquisition boosts Pinnacle earnings

by Eric Schroeder
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MOUNTAIN LAKES, N.J. — Earnings and sales at Pinnacle Foods Finance L.L.C. rose sharply in the first quarter of fiscal 2010, boosted by the acquisition of Birds Eye Foods, Inc. in late 2009. Net income at Pinnacle in the first quarter ended March 28 totaled $3,930,000, up from a loss of $2,100,000 in the same period a year ago.

Net sales rose 54% to $656,436,000 from $427,408,000. Pinnacle said the acquisition of Birds Eye Foods added $243 million in net sales during the quarter.

“Birds Eye Steamfresh vegetables grew significantly compared with the same period a year ago driven by new product volume, promotional increases and strong market share performance,” the company said. “Birds Eye Voila! complete bagged meals also showed a significant increase. Aunt Jemima frozen breakfasts, Van de Kamp’s and Mrs. Paul’s frozen seafood, Vlasic pickles and Duncan Hines baking mixes and frosting also posted sales increases.”

While year-over-year sales on a proforma basis after giving effect to the Birds Eye acquisition were essentially flat, Pinnacle said net sales in the company’s retail brand business were up 4% and Specialty Foods Division net sales were down 15%, reflecting the company’s decision to de-emphasize lower margin food service and private label products.

“We are pleased with our strong start in the first quarter of 2010,” said Robert J. Gamgort, chief executive officer. “We were able to deliver share growth on the majority of our brands while generating strong earnings in an increasingly challenging environment. Integration of Birds Eye is proceeding well and we are beginning to realize acquisition synergies in our results.”

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