United Natural Foods (NYSE: UNFI) reported a sharp fall in its fourth-quarter earnings, despite strong revenue growth. The bottom line also missed analysts’ expectations and the company’s stock lost about 16% during Tuesday’s extended trading session, immediately after the announcement.
Adjusted earnings declined to $0.44 per share in the July-quarter from $0.76 per share in the same period of last year. Analysts were looking for faster growth. Unadjusted profit dropped to $18.9 million or $0.36 per share from $32.8 million or $0.64 per share a year earlier. The bottom-line was negatively impacted by a sharp increase in operating expenses.
“As we begin the new fiscal year, I see tremendous focus and enthusiasm across the organization as we execute our strategy. This passion will be a tailwind as we drive to accelerate cross-selling efforts, realize new cost efficiencies, aggressively pay down debt and deliver results in the quarters to come,” said Steven Spinner, chief executive officer.
Meanwhile, net sales more than doubled to $6.41 billion during the three-month period, aided by solid contributions from Supervalu which joined the United Natural fold last year. The top-line, meanwhile, fell short of expectations. Sales at the Supernatural segment advanced 19% and those at Independents grew by 27%, while Supermarkets sales quadrupled.
For fiscal 2020, the management expects earnings to be in the range of $0.35 per share to $0.89 per share. Earnings, on an adjusted basis, are estimated to be in the $1.22-$1.76 per share range. The forecast for full-year net sales is between $23.5 billion and $24.3 billion.
The company’s stock has lost steadily since the beginning of the year and hit a multi-year low a few weeks ago. The stock closed Tuesday regular session sharply lower and continued to lose during the after-hours session.
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