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Weston Bakery truck trailers.
Weston Bakery truck trailers.

George Weston profit drops 52% Add to ...

George Weston Ltd. says its third-quarter profit dropped 52 per cent from year-ago levels largely because of the negative impact foreign exchange losses.

North America's largest baked goods maker reported net earnings of $86-million or 56 cents per share for the quarter ended Oct. 10. That was down from a year-ago profit of $180-million or $1.29 per share.

Revenue totalled $9.78-billion for the quarter, down about $100-million from $9.88-billion last year.

Analysts had expected revenue of $9.90-billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Toronto-based Weston said most of its revenue came from the Loblaw , a publicly traded grocery retailer that it controls.

Its Weston Foods sector, which includes the baking business, accounted for just $502-million of revenue, down 26 per cent from a year before.

Excluding discontinued operations following the sale Weston Food's dairy and bottling operations at the end of last year and its U.S. fresh bread and baked goods business early this year, Weston's overall profit was $71 million or 44 cents per share.

George Weston said its net earnings in the most recent quarter took a beating from a 58 cent charge per common share related to unrealized foreign exchange losses.

Last year's third-quarter, spanning a 16-week period ended Oct. 4, 2008, Weston's net earnings from continuing operations was $119-million or 81 cents per share, while net earnings including discontinued operations was $180-million or $1.29-million.

But the company said that excluding the foreign exchange losses and other items, its performance in the third quarter was "strong" compared to last year.

George Weston said it is continuing its brand and product development efforts while plant and distribution optimization, coupled with other cost reduction initiatives remain a priority.

The company said the sale of its dairy and bottling operations in the fourth quarter of 2008 negatively impacted sales growth by about 26 per cent. Meanwhile it said foreign currency translation positively impacted sales growth by about two per cent.



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