Hain Celestial Keeps Growing in Q4

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The Hain Celestial Group  (NASDAQ: HAIN  )  wrapped up fiscal 2014 with healthy growth, reporting Q4 and fiscal-year results Wednesday morning. Net sales climbed 26% to $583.8 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, fueled by 7.5% organic growth, expanding international distribution, and the addition of recent acquisitions. Adjusted operating income grew 45% to $46 million, resulting in $0.90 a share in earnings.

Analysts were only holding out for a profit of $0.89 a share on $578.3 million in sales. The bottom-line beat isn't a surprise. Hain Celestial has now beaten Wall Street's profit targets in four of the past five quarters. 

Hain Celestial has carved out a cozy living consolidating the highly fragmented industry of organic and natural foods. Two of its brands -- Rudi's Organic Bakery and Tilda -- were acquired earlier this year, padding its top-line results. Hain Celestial is pretty efficient in getting the synergies to kick in fairly quickly. As it explained during Wednesday morning's earnings call, it may have closed on the Rudi's purchase just three months ago but it's already benefiting from the cost savings of moving its operations into its Celestial Seasonings unit and expanding its distribution through its deep Rolodex of stores stocking organic foods.

Hain Celestial singled out the number of stores that Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM  ) and Sprouts Farmers Market (NASDAQ: SFM  ) will be opening in the coming year as a way for it to expand its distribution, but it's also selling its products through grocery stores and other mainstream retailers that are devoting more selling space to organic and natural foods. Another interesting tidbit from this morning's call: Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) is now one of Hain's 10 largest customers. 

Hain Celestial pointed out during its call that 19 of its brands have posted double-digit growth over the past year, and that it now has a presence in 65 different countries. However, its reach has been largely limited to the U.S. and the United Kingdom, accounting for 55% and 34% of its fourth-quarter sales, respectively. 

Looking ahead to fiscal 2015, which kicked off last month, Hain sees $2.725 billion to $2.8 billion in net sales for the fiscal year. That translates into robust sales growth of as much as 30%, but investors know that Hain Celestial's top-line growth is rarely organic (even as it specializes in organic foodstuffs). It closed on the acquisition of Hain Pure Protein last month, a transaction that will pad net sales as it clocked in with $230 million in net sales in fiscal 2014.

Hain Celestial is targeting earnings of $3.72 a share to $3.90 a share for FY 2015, an increase of 17% to 23% relative to fiscal 2014. Wall Street is currently forecasting a profit of $3.73 a share on $2.51 billion in net sales, so those projections should inch higher in the coming days.

Hain shares were up more than 10% as of 10:40 a.m.

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