PARSIPPANY, N.J. — B&G Foods, Inc. felt the loss from the sale of its Pirate Brands business in first-quarter earnings and revenues, but management believes the sale ultimately will prove to be a case of addition by subtraction.
“While the sale of Pirate Brands reduced our financial performance for the first quarter, the very attractive purchase price we received improved our balance sheet and better positioned our company to continue pursuing accretive acquisitions,” said Kenneth G. Romanzi, president and chief executive officer, when the company reported first-quarter results on May 2.
Net income of $16.8 million, or 26c per share on the common stock, in the quarter ended March 30 was down 18% from $20.5 million, or 31c per share, in the previous year’s first quarter. Net sales of $412.7 million were down 4.4% from $431.7 million. In the previous year’s first quarter, net sales of Pirate Brands were $21 million. B&G Foods on Oct. 17, 2018, completed the sale of Pirate Brands to Amplify Snack Brands, Inc., a subsidiary of The Hershey Co., for about $420 million in cash.
Investors did not respond positively to the first-quarter financial results, which were announced after the May 2 close of the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s stock closed at $22.72 per share on May 3, down 9% from the May 2 close of $24.95.
B&G Foods has stayed active on the acquisition front. The company on July 16, 2018, completed the acquisition of the McCann’s brand of premium Irish oatmeal from TreeHouse Foods, Inc. for $32 million in cash. Net sales of McCann’s contributed $3.3 million to B&G Foods’ first-quarter sales.
“McCann’s margins are strong, and it has proven additive to our cash flows, and we believe this little brand has the potential to be a bigger part of our portfolio over time,” Mr. Romanzi said. “It holds a leadership position in the premium oatmeal category segment, and we are excited about the potential to drive new distribution growth as we fill in the still sizeable distribution gaps and work to take this on-trend, better-for-you brand national over time.”
Future acquisitions could come in “vegetable-forward” businesses, he said.
“We're always open to accretive acquisitions that we can buy with the disciplined purchasing approach that B&G takes, but on the frozen side, and particularly with frozen vegetables in Green Giant, we have an internal pipeline that we see (going) for quite some time that we’re very, very excited about,” Mr. Romanzi said. “So the internal pipeline is very robust to maintain Green Giant.
“However, if there are other kind of vegetable-forward businesses out there that we think we can buy in a disciplined manner to add to our business, and perhaps the Green Giant brand name on that package might even be better applied, we will absolutely look at that.”
Net sales of all Green Giant products in the aggregate increased more than 5%, or $6.9 million, which included increases of $6 million, or 6%, for Green Giant frozen and $900,000, or 2.8%, for Green Giant shelf stable. The successful launches of Green Giant cauliflower pizza crust, Green Giant Harvest Protein Bowls and Little Green Sprout’s Organics encouraged B&G Foods executives, Mr. Romanzi said.
Other sales increases came from New York Style, up $1.3 million, or 16%, Maple Grove Farms, up $900,000, or 6%, and spices and seasonings, up $700,000, or 0.8%. Decreases came from Back to Nature, down $3.3 million, or 17%, Victoria, down $1.4 million, or 11%, Cream of Wheat, down $1 million, or 6%, Ortega, down $600,000, or 1.6%, and all other brands, down $3.3 million, or 4.1%. A product recall adversely affected the Victoria brand.
Base business sales in the first quarter for B&G Foods increased to $409.5 million from $409.3 million. Net pricing led to a sales increase of $7.3 million in the base business, offset by a decrease of $7.1 million in unit volume.
B&G Foods is confident it will achieve its full-year target of benefits of $15 million to $20 million in pricing, said Bruce C. Wacha, chief financial officer and executive vice-president of finance. Cost-savings benefits for the full year also should be in the range of $15 million to $20 million, he said.
B&G Foods reaffirmed full-year outlooks of net sales in a range of $1,635 million to $1,665 million and adjusted diluted e.p.s.in a range of $1.85 to $2.