Post shares sapped by soggy sales

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Post Holdings — the US-based consumer-food company that recently gobbled up beloved British cereal brand Weetabix — saw its shares turn lower on Monday after it reported slowing sales and a larger-than-expected net loss in the past quarter.

The company — best-known for breakfast staples like Honey Bunches of Oats, Post Raisin Bran and Grape-Nuts — said that net sales for the three months ending March 31 were $1.25bn, a 1.2 per cent decrease from the same period a year earlier and in line with Wall Street’s expectations. Its net loss for the quarter was $4m, as expected by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That translated to an 11-cents-per-share loss, steeper than the 5 cent loss Wall Street had been looking for.

Both its Post Consumer Brands unit — which includes ready-to-eat cereals — and its Michaels unit, which peddles egg, potato, cheese and pastas, recorded declining net sales during the past quarter.

Its Active Nutrition unit, however, which sells protein shakes, bars, powders and nutritional supplements, as well as its Private Brands label — including peanut and nut butters, dried fruits and nuts and granola — saw sales increase during the quarter.

Post said that its results were affected by a $62.5m loss it took on early extinguishment of debt, stemming from payments it made in March to redeem notes due in 2021 and 2022.

The company affirmed its guidance of adjusted Ebitda in the range of $920m-$950m for fiscal 2017, excluding any contribution from Weetabix, the British cereal that carries a royal warrant and is a household staple in the UK, which it recently bought for $1.76bn after five years under Chinese ownership.

Post shares, which have risen 9 per cent over the past 12 months, fell more than 5.5 per cent in after-hours trading.

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