Canadian company Maple Leaf Foods has reported its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, with solid increases in both sales and profits.
Sales for the first quarter increased 16 per cent to over $1.2 billion (€1.3bn) from less than $1.1 billion for the same period last year, while earnings from operations of $41.7 million increased from $30.8 million last year.
The increase was driven by very strong results in the bakery products group, and strong protein value chain results in both the meat products group and the agribusiness group. Net earnings for the first quarter of $16.9 million increased from $9.7 million in 2001.
Other income for the first quarter of $1.6 million compared to $3.5 million for the same period last year, reflecting lower earnings from real estate operations. Interest expense for the quarter of $13.4 million decreased from $16.3 million for the prior year due to lower borrowing levels and lower interest rates.
The meat products group (branded value-added prepared meat products; fresh, frozen and branded value-added pork products; fresh, frozen and branded value-added chicken and turkey products; and global food marketing, distribution and trading) saw sales for the first quarter increase to 7 per cent to $737 million from $689 million last year, while earnings from operations of $12.5 million compared to $10.4 million for the same period last year.
Maple Leaf Pork continued to achieve operational improvements, and recorded improved results over last year in spite of industry wide margin pressure.
The bakery products group (fresh, frozen and branded value-addedbakery products, including frozen par-baked bakery products; and specialty pasta and sauces) saw first quarter sales of $265 million, increasing 62 per cent from $164 million for the same period last year. The increase was principally due to the inclusion of sales from Multi-Marques of Quebec and the New York Bagel Company of the United Kingdom, both of which were purchased in the fourth quarter of 2001. Excluding the effect of these acquisitions, sales for the quarter increased by 7 per cent.
"The company achieved another quarter of solid earnings growth, with good progress across all our operating groups in spite of industry wide margin pressure in both the pork and poultry sectors," said Michael H. McCain, president and chief executive officer. "We are particularly pleased by the growth of our bakery products group, including the significant contribution of Multi Marques."