Saputo recently reported lower profits in the first quarter of fiscal 2022 despite a 2.9 per cent increase in revenues as it continued to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The Saputo plant in Burnaby. Google Street View

Saputo recently reported lower profits in the first quarter of fiscal 2022 despite a 2.9 per cent increase in revenues as it continued to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that hasn’t stopped it from still snapping up companies to bolster its fortunes.

The cheese and dairy processor, which operates a large plant just off Lougheed highway in Burnaby, says its net income plunged 63 per cent to $53 million in the quarter, down from $142 million a year earlier. That amounted to 13 cents per share, down from 35 cents per share in the first quarter of fiscal 2021.

The company attributed the decrease to ongoing shifts in consumer demand, inflation, dairy pricing volatility, heightened competition and supply chain obstacles.

But it still managed to acquire two food manufacturing facilities in North Carolina for US$118 million.

The dairy giant says Carolina Aseptic and Carolina Dairy will join Saputo’s U.S. dairy division.

Carolina Aseptic makes shelf-stable food products and beverages in a facility in Troy, N.C., while Biscoe, N.C.-based Carolina Dairy makes refrigerated yogurt in spouted pouches. Together, the facilities employ about 230 workers.

Saputo says the acquisitions complement the company’s organic growth while strengthening its presence in the rapidly growing aseptic beverage and food categories and nutritional snacks space.

This comes as plans are in the works for the Burnaby Saputo plant to finally move from its Lougheed spot to Port Coquitlam. The company sold the Burnaby property for more than $200 million.

On an adjusted basis excluding amortization of intangible assets related to acquisitions, Saputo earned $122 million or 29 cents per share, down from $179 million or 44 cents per share in the year-ago period.

Revenues for the three months ended June 30 were $3.49 billion, up from $3.39 billion in the 2020 quarter on higher foodservice sales as the shift in consumer demand due to COVID-19 continued.

Analysts on average expected that Saputo would report 27 cents per share in adjusted profits on nearly $3.4 billion of revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

“Despite these challenges, we remain optimistic that the mitigating measures we’re putting in place and the first wave of initiatives we’re deploying under our global strategic plan will enable us to deliver organic adjusted EBITDA growth this fiscal year,” stated CEO Lino Saputo Jr.

“We’re moving forward with responsible pricing initiatives, and we’re keenly focused on diversifying our business and increasing the profitability of our product offering, supported by our three recent acquisitions in dairy alternative cheese, value-added ingredients, and specialty cheese.”

A PROOF of concept trial driven by the SA Dairyfarmers’ Association is aiming to improve the traceability of milk products right through the supply chain and strengthen industry integrity and transparency.

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