CAMDEN, NJ — Investments in the Campbell Soup Co.’s snacks and soup businesses supported the company’s results during the second quarter of fiscal 2020, ended Jan. 26. The positive performance led management to raise its adjusted earnings per share guidance for the rest of the year.
Second-quarter net income was $1.21 billion, equal to 57c per share on the common stock, and an improvement over the second quarter of fiscal 2019 when the company recorded a loss of $59 million.
Quarterly sales fell to $2.16 billion from $2.17 billion the year prior. The sales decline was attributed to the divestment of the company’s European chips business. Organic net sales rose 1% when compared to the same period of the previous year.
Organic Snacks unit sales rose 2% to $938 million and segment operating earnings rose 3% to $136 million.
“Eight of our nine power snack brands grew or held share in the quarter,” said Mark A. Clouse, president and chief executive officer, during a March 4 conference call with securities analysts. “In fact, these brands grew 4% for the quarter, demonstrating their continued strength and differentiation in the market.”
An increased investment in marketing, up 20% compared to the year prior, was identified by Mr. Clouse as a driver of Snacks business performance.
Meals & Beverages business sales were flat during the quarter at $1.22 billion. Operating earnings slipped 4% to $242 million.
“I’m pleased with the progress we’re making in the division and the sequential improvement in sales performance,” Mr. Clouse said. “In the second quarter, net sales were comparable to the prior year. This performance reflected the impact of improved retailer relationships, investments in our core brands and overall stepped-up execution on the business.
“While we’re certainly not all the way to bright, the business is responding favorably to the actions we have taken to optimize the portfolio and our increased investments to improve the quality of our food and building equity in our brands.”
US retail soup sales rose 1% during the quarter behind strong performances in condensed and broth products.
“We continue to see strong indicators on several measures related to the improving health of our soup brands and much better execution in the key holiday period,” Mr. Clouse said. “For instance, we grew share for the second consecutive quarter, with gains in condensed and broth. Another important metric that we are particularly excited about is household penetration, which increased versus the prior year, driven by our condensed portfolio. Not only are we attracting new households, we are attracting younger households, which bodes well for the future.”
One area of weakness within Campbell’s soup business was ready-to-serve (R-T-S) applications, which saw sales fall 3.2% during the quarter.
“We expected ready-to-serve to decline this quarter as our plans called for reductions in the depth of our trade events around Chunky and the continued impact of the distribution losses in the segment,” Mr. Clouse said. “These actions negatively impacted volume and share in the quarter. While painful, this was the right decision for the long-term health of the brand. I anticipate that in fiscal ’21, we’ll get back to playing full offense on all of our R-T-S brands based on the steps we’ve taken this year to fix the foundation.”
While management held the company’s fiscal 2020 sales guidance to -1% to +1% of fiscal 2019 sales of $8.11 billion, it did raise its adjusted earnings per share guidance from a range of $2.50 to $2.55 per share to $2.55 to $2.60 per share.
“The improved outlook is being driven by the lower adjusted interest expense following our successful deleveraging in the quarter and adjusted EBIT momentum through the first half, which was better than we anticipated,” Mr. Clouse said. “We expect these benefits to be partially mitigated as we plan to increase some strategic investments in the business to drive continued momentum in the back half of the year.”
Net income for the first six months of fiscal 2020 was $1.37 billion, equal to $4.56 per share. Net income for the first six months of fiscal 2019 was $135 million, equal to 45¢ per share.
Sales for the period fell 1% to $4.35 billion.