DENVER — The WhiteWave Foods Co. continues to expand its Horizon brand beyond the organic milk category as new non-dairy products in the portfolio contributed to strong growth in the past year. Net income for WhiteWave in the year ended Dec. 31, 2015, was $168 million, equal to 96c per share on the common stock, up 20% from $140 million, or 81c per share, in 2014. Net sales for the full year were $3,866 million, up 13% from year-ago sales of $3,437 million.
|Blaine McPeak, c.o.o. of WhiteWave|
“When we take a look at the broader Horizon business, we are incredibly pleased with what we saw in 2015,” said Blaine McPeak, chief operating officer, during a Feb. 11 earnings call with financial analysts. “It had some of the strongest growth across our company, with growth in the teens here. That’s off of an organic milk category that is growing high single digits… At the same time, we are seeing these extra adjacencies really contribute to our top-line growth perspective.”
Within the past couple years, WhiteWave has added macaroni and cheese, cookies, crackers and squeezable fruit snacks under the Horizon banner. Along with shelf-stable single-serve milks, Horizon’s center-store platform represents a “couple hundred million dollar business” that is growing at an accretive rate, Mr. McPeak said.
“We are really going to focus on velocities and continuing to build the strength of that portfolio as well as some selective innovation here, in particular in the mac and cheese area,” Mr. McPeak said. “And beyond that, we see nice runway as well in other adjacent dairy categories, be that cheese or butter or yogurt. And we have seen nice strong growth in those areas, double-digit growth, that has been added to our top-line profile as well.
“I think it all reflects that we have a very, very strong brand that has great credence with moms. And we continue to look to build upon the strength in the core milk category, as well as extend that a little bit further in others.”
Net income for the fourth quarter advanced 46% to $48 million, or 28c per share, from $33 million, or 19c, for the prior-year period. Net sales increased 13% to $1,028 million from $911 million.
WhiteWave’s Americas Foods and Beverages segment, which includes plant-based foods and beverages, coffee creamers and beverages, and premium dairy, posted full-year net sales of $2,768 million, an increase of 18% over the prior year, driven by volume growth and aided by pricing benefits within the premium dairy platform. Operating income for the segment increased 26% to $334 million for the year.
Net sales for the Americas Fresh Foods segment, which includes the Earthbound Farm brand, fell 2% to $566 million for the year, as 9% growth in the organic packaged salad category was offset by a decline in fresh fruits as a result of the company’s decision to rationalize the lower-margin business. Operating income declined 47% to $25 million for the year.
For the Europe Foods and Beverages segment, which includes plant-based foods and beverages sold primarily under the Alpro brand, full-year net sales increased 4% on a reported basis to $533 million and 21% on a constant-currency basis to $616 million, driven by volume growth across major product lines. Operating income for the segment advanced 29% to $68 million.
|Gregg Engles, chairman and c.e.o. of WhiteWave|
“In summary, 2015 was another great year for WhiteWave,” said Gregg Engles, chairman and chief executive officer. “Beyond delivering very strong financial results, we completed two highly strategic acquisitions, Vega and Wallaby, and largely finished the integration of So Delicious. We further expanded and improved our manufacturing capabilities, launched several new and innovative products, and opened a new state-of-the-art R.&D. facility.”For the year ahead, WhiteWave expects to deliver constant-currency net sales growth of 11% to 12% and adjusted operating income growth in the high teens to low-twenties on a constant currency basis.