LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. — In his first six months leading the Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Mark L. Schiller, president and chief executive officer, has taken swift actions to streamline operations and expand margins. In early May, the company divested its WestSoy tofu business and reached a definitive agreement to sell the remaining Hain Pure Protein business, which includes the Empire Kosher and FreeBird brands.
“Both of these businesses were low-margin and low-growth with minimal potential to be accretive to our portfolio,” Mr. Schiller said during a May 9 conference call with securities analysts to discuss third-quarter results. “In addition to simplifying the portfolio, these divestitures should also improve our balance sheet as we generate cash flow from these transactions and reduce operating losses.”
Aterian Investment Partners III, L.P., a New York-based private equity company, has agreed to buy the remaining Hain Pure Protein Corp. for $80 million. Hain Celestial sold part of the business, Plainville Farms, to a group of private investors in February.
Keystone Natural Holdings, a portfolio company of Chicago-based Keystone Capital and manufacturer of plant-based protein products, has acquired the WestSoy tofu, seitan and tempeh businesses for an undisclosed amount. The transaction did not include the WestSoy plant-based beverage business, which has been retained by Hain Celestial.
Another strategic action underway is a stock-keeping unit optimization effort in North America. The company expects to eliminate approximately 350 s.k.u.s and reduce its number of co-manufacturers by 20 to 25, improving margin profile by more than 150 basis points over time, Mr. Schiller said.
Hain Celestial is restructuring its North American business to reduce layers, create centers of excellence and refocus resources. Meanwhile, six executives have joined the leadership team since November. Most recently, Jeff George was named senior vice-president of research and development, and Jerry Wolfe was named chief supply chain officer.
“Both of these leaders bring significant functional expertise and a pretty broad meaningful process improvement in innovation, distribution and warehousing, inventory management and service,” Mr. Schiller said. “We also have a new president of North America starting in a couple of weeks who will be responsible for overseeing marketing in the U.S. and creating synergies between our U.S. and Canadian businesses.”
For the third quarter ended March 31, Hain Celestial recorded a loss of $65,837,000, which compared with net income of $12,686,000 in the prior-year period. Net sales eased by 5% to $599,797,000 from $632,720,000.
Hain Celestial United States segment operating income from continuing operations decreased 32% to $17.1 million on net sales of $266.4 million, which declined 5% over the year-ago period. Excluding acquisitions, divestitures and s.k.u. rationalization, net sales dropped 2%.
Hain Celestial United Kingdom segment operating income increased 31% to $18.1 million over the prior-year period on net sales of $227.2 million, down 5% from the year before. Net sales increased 3% when adjusting for foreign currency exchange, acquisitions, divestitures and certain other items.
In the Rest of World segment, operating income slipped 2% to $10.9 million, and net sales fell 6% to $106.1 million from the prior-year period. Adjusted net sales increased 1%.
Financial results related to the Hain Pure Protein business segment were recorded as discontinued operations in the current and prior periods. Net loss from discontinued operations, net of tax, in the third quarter was $75.9 million and included a $40 million non-cash impairment charge and a loss on sale of $29.7 million.
Year to date, Hain Celestial sustained a loss of $169,763,000, which compared with net income of $79,635,000, while net sales declined to $1,744,786,000 from $1,838,171,000.
The company is on track to achieve its full-year outlook, Mr. Schiller said. The company expects total net sales of $2.32 billion to $2.35 billion, a decrease of approximately 4% to 6% compared to the prior year. Adjusted EBITDA is forecast in the range of $185 million to $200 million, a decline of approximately 22% to 28%, and adjusted e.p.s. is estimated in the range of 60c to 70c, a decrease of approximately 40% to 48%.
“Our results are showing signs that the business transformation is starting to work,” Mr. Schiller said. “We’re demonstrating our ability to reduce uneconomic activity and stabilize and cost reduce areas of our supply chain, resulting in better gross margins and EBITDA margin. ... While we’re very pleased with our Q3 performance and our trajectory, we have a long road ahead before we can declare victory.”