ORRVILLE, OHIO — The ability to drive commercial excellence, streamline cost infrastructure, reshape its portfolio and unleash its organization to win proved a winning formula for the J.M. Smucker Co. in fiscal 2021 as full-year earnings and sales surged 12% and 3%, respectively.
Describing the company’s “four execution priorities” in a June 3 conference call with analysts, Mark T. Smucker, president and chief executive officer, said the priorities are essential to positioning J.M. Smucker for sustainable long-term growth.
In driving commercial excellence, Mr. Smucker said the company adapted its approach during the past year to deliver what customers and consumers need and want more efficiently.
“These changes included standing up a new sales model with two distinct teams, one focused on pets and the other on our consumer foods and coffee businesses,” he said. “The benefits from improved in-store execution and leveraging insights, combined with additional advertising and improved reach through new digital media models, have been a driving factor for our market share gains.”
Mr. Smucker said the company’s new commercial delivery model includes an increased focus on e-commerce, which accounted for 12% of Smucker’s US Retail sales in fiscal 2021.
“Consumers remained loyal to our brands as we maintained the 1 million net new households gained in the prior year, while dollars per buyer increased 10%,” he said. “Over the past year, we increased our marketing investment by nearly $40 million, or 8%. Most importantly, we’ve significantly improved our market share performance, where, today, 55% of the brands in our portfolio are growing market share versus 26% 18 months ago. This is the sixth quarter of sequential share performance improvement for our portfolio.”
Mr. Smucker said the company made significant progress against its second priority — increasing focus on profitability and cost discipline — by restructuring its corporate support functions. The company’s efforts are expected to deliver $50 million in incremental cost savings in each of the next three fiscal years, he said.
“Excellent progress” was made in reshaping the company’s portfolio, a third key priority at J.M. Smucker, Mr. Smucker said. Specifically, the company completed its exit from the US baking category with the sale of its oils and shortenings business and divested the Natural Balance brand within its pet business.
“These decisions show our commitment to divesting brands and businesses that are no longer consistent with our long-term strategic focus,” Mr. Smucker said. “In turn, this allows us to optimize assortment to maximize productivity, reduce complexity and shift resources to our fastest-growing opportunities. We continue to evaluate opportunities to increase our portfolio’s focus in the pet food, coffee and snacking categories. Further, acquisitions will remain a part of our strategic growth, and we will be prudent when considering them, ensuring we focus on appropriate multiples paid and financial returns in their evaluation.”
The fourth and final execution priority involves “unleashing our organization to win,” Mr. Smucker said. The priority, in essence, powers the first three priorities, he said.
“With the impact of my new leadership team, and through the additional organization changes implemented this past year, we are more lean, agile and focused on delivering with excellence and winning in the marketplace,” he said. “We’re also increasing our focus on becoming a more inclusive and diverse company at every level of the organization.”
Net income at J.M. Smucker for the year ended April 30 was $876.3 million, equal to $7.79 per share on the common stock, up 12% from $779.5 million, or $6.84 per share, in fiscal 2020. Fiscal 2021 sales also were higher, climbing 3% to $8 billion from $7.8 billion.
The strong full-year results came despite a more challenging fourth quarter in which net income fell 35% and sales were down 8% from the same period a year ago.
News sent the company’s shares up more than 2.5% on the Nasdaq to as high as $139.45 per share on June 3, just shy of the 52-week high of $139.57 set back on May 10.
US Retail Consumer Foods unit sales increased 6% in the full year to $1.84 billion from $1.73 billion. Segment profit rose 21% to $472.5 million from $389.7 million. The company’s Uncrustables brand delivered more than $400 million in net sales during fiscal 2021 and is on track to exceed the company’s target of $500 million in sales by 2023, Mr. Smucker said.
Sales for Smucker’s US Retail Coffee business unit increased 10% during fiscal 2021 to $2.37 billion from $2.15 billion the prior year. Segment profit moved up 11% to $769.1 million from $691 million.
“Café Bustelo and Dunkin’ are the two fastest-growing brands in the coffee category,” Mr. Smucker said. “Over the last 52 weeks, Café Bustelo retail sales grew 21% and Dunkin’ grew 16%. The Dunkin’ brand, representing $1 billion in all channel retail sales dollars, was a top share gainer in the coffee category, growing nearly triple the total at-home coffee category rate in measured channels over the last 52 weeks. The Folgers brand gained 3 million new households at the height of the pandemic and has the highest repeat rate of any brand for new households gained during the pandemic. We will continue to build up this momentum with initiatives to reinvigorate the iconic brand rolling out in the second half of fiscal year ‘22. As new coffee habits formed during the pandemic, we anticipate retaining a substantial portion of these new consumers for the long term.”
Sales slid 1% to $2.84 billion in Smucker’s largest business unit, US Retail Pet Foods, down from $2.87 billion a year ago. Segment profit also was down, falling 12% to $487 million from $552.7 million.