Food processor Maple Leaf Foods Inc. says its fourth-quarter profits fell to $9.2-million from a year-earlier $30.6-million as the company booked $32.2-million worth of pre-tax restructuring charges.
Sales were up 3 per cent but adjusted operating earnings — an internal measure of performance — fell to $57.4-million from $69.9-million in the same period a year earlier as raw material costs, especially for meat, rose unexpectedly.
Net earnings per share dropped to six cents from a year-before 21 cents, with the restructuring taking a 17 cent per share bite. Adjusted earnings per share were 21 cents, down from 27 cents.
The average analyst estimate had been for a profit of 26 cents per share for the quarter, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
“We are very pleased with our results for the year and we remain on track to deliver our earnings and margin growth for 2012 through 2015,” president and CEO Michael McCain said Tuesday in a statement.
“However, we experienced a challenging fourth quarter as a result of unseasonably strong raw material costs which impacted continued margin growth in prepared meats. We also experienced short term higher operating costs in our bakery business.”
Mr. McCain said the company is working to boost its prices to help mitigate the cost increases.
Maple Leaf has been cutting costs and restructuring its operations.
Earlier this month, the company said it was closing a chicken processing plant in Ayr, Ont., in a move that will result in the net loss of about 100 jobs.
The closure is part of a plan to consolidate the company's poultry operations at its Brantford and Mississauga, Ont., plants.
Maple Leaf is Canada's biggest food processor, making and selling such well-known store brands as Maple Leaf, Burns and Schneiders hot dogs, Dempster's bread, Olivieri pasta, as well as Shopsy's deli meats and Mitchell's Gourmet foods.
Last year, Maple Leaf announced a plan to cut 1,550 jobs by closing plants in four provinces and streamlining distribution, part of a three-year, $560-million restructuring plan expected to boost competitiveness and profitability.
Maple Leaf has 21,000 employees at its operations across Canada and in the United States, Europe and Asia.
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