TORONTO — Lower earnings in the protein business outweighed improvements in the bakery business and led to a sharp loss during the first quarter at Maple Leaf Foods, Inc.
For the quarter ended March 31, the company sustained a loss of C$14,742,000 ($14,626,000), which compared with a loss of C$5,775,000 during the same quarter of the previous year. Total sales were C$1,112,833,000($1,104,092,000), down 4% from C$1,160,823,000 during the same quarter of the previous year.
“This was a very difficult quarter, with lower earnings in our protein business overshadowing good improvement in our bakery results,” said Michael H. McCain, president and chief executive officer. “For some time, we expected a volatile first half to 2013, but this certainly has been more severe than anticipated. Our meat business has demonstrated multiple years of progressive and steady improvement, but this quarter experienced the aggregate impact of poor market conditions, weaker volumes in the wake of necessary price advances and transition costs related to our new network. While challenging in the near term, we expect steady improvements through the remainder of the year as a result of improved markets, restoring stable volumes and continued success in our supply chain conversions. Our strategic initiatives, which are the most material contributor to our margin expansion, are on track and contributing to results.”
The company said adjusted operating earnings for the quarter were C$7,554,000, down 76% from C$31,731,000 during the same quarter of the previous year.
Adjusted operating earnings for the Protein Group were C$5,072,000, which compared with income of C$33,283,000 during the same quarter of the previous year. The Group had sales of C$744,407,000, down 6% from C$790,833,000 during the same quarter of the previous year. The results were impacted by lower volumes and the divesture of the potato processing business.
The Meat Products Group experienced a loss of C$10,452,000, which compared with earnings of C$15,129,000 during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the segment were C$676,957,000, down 7% from $725,535,000. The company said results were affected by last year’s drought and lower volumes.
The Bakery Products group had earnings of C$14,124,000, up significantly from C$2,359,000 during the same quarter of the previous year. The segment had sales of C$368,426,000, up slightly from C$369,990,000. The company said the results were boosted by improved operating efficiencies, contribution from the new Hamilton, Ont., bakery and price increases and lower advertising costs.