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The Simply Good Foods Company  (NASDAQ:SMPL)
Q2 2019 Earnings Conference Call
April 04, 2019, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Greetings and welcome to The Simply Good Foods Company Second Quarter 2019 Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Mr. Mark Pogharian, Vice President of Investor Relations for Simply Good Foods. Thank you. You may begin.

Mark Pogharian -- Vice President, Investor Relations, Treasury and Business Development

Thank you, Melissa. Good morning. I'm pleased to welcome you to The Simply Good Foods Company earnings call for the second quarter ended February 23, 2019.

Joe Scalzo, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Todd Cunfer, Chief Financial Officer, will provide you with an overview of results, which will then be followed by a Q&A session.

The Company issued its earnings press release this morning at approximately 7 a.m. Eastern Time. A copy of the release and the accompanying presentation are available under the Investors section of the Company's website at www.thesimplygoodfoodscompany.com. This call is being webcast live on the website and an archive of today's remarks will also be available for 30 days.

During the course of today's call, management will make forward-looking statements that are subject to various risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially. The Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements based on the subsequent events. A detailed listing of such risks and uncertainties can be found in today's press release and in the Company's SEC filings.

In addition, management will make references to adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP financial measure that it believes provides investors with the useful information with which to evaluate the Company's operating performance. Today's earnings release includes a reconciliation of the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures to non-GAAP measures.

And with that out of the way, it's my pleasure to turn the call over to Joe Scalzo, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thank you, Mark. Good morning and thank you for joining us today. I'll recap our second quarter highlights and then provide an update on our business. I'll turn the call over to Todd, who will discuss our second quarter year-to-date financial results, and after that, we'll open the call to your questions.

I'm pleased with our financial and marketplace results, both of which exceeded our expectations. In the second quarter, we maintained a strong business momentum we've experienced over the last 12 months. Net sales and gross profit have increased double digits on a percentage basis versus last year, for four consecutive quarters. This has enabled us to make investments in marketing and capability, while delivering strong EBITDA growth. Our growth in consumer offtake or point of sale, as measured by IRI, continued to be strong across all products, all channels and all major customers. And our e-commerce business also continued to do well, up nearly 50% over the last six months.

As we discussed last year, given supply constraints, due to unexpected double-digit base POS growth, we dialed back the frequency of our promotions in Q2 to focus on on-shelf inventory. This strategic choice resulted in favorable, retail promotional spending and improve customer inventory level. While early, our fiscal third quarter is off to a good start. Our advertising and marketing continues to drive strong volume growth and our improved customer inventory levels, access to increased supply and lower promotional volume on bars have enabled us to keep pace with strong consumer demand.

Turning to the second quarter, net sales grew 13.2% year-over-year, with adjusted EBITDA up 22.1%. Similar to last four-plus quarters, our business continues to be driven by strong base velocity gains on core products. The increase in our topline underscores the strength and resilience of our brand against our large consumer target that includes both core programmatic weight loss consumers, as well as lifestyle-oriented low carbers. Our successful marketing campaign is resonating with both groups of consumers and complements the mega trends supporting our growth, including convenience, meal replacement and low-carb, low-sugar, protein-rich snacking.

Volume was the biggest contributor to growth in Q2, up 12.2%. As expected, lower frequency on bar promotions was a 3.5-point benefit, and that was partially offset by the non-price related customer promotion accounting shift from G&A that we discussed last quarter. Todd will have a bit more on this in a moment. The increase in adjusted EBITDA is a direct result of the sales growth. These gains were partially offset by higher direct media investment as well as an increase in G&A.

Measured channel US POS growth continues to be strong, giving us confidence in the effectiveness of our marketing to drive consumption and growth volumes. Our strong retail performance continue to come almost entirely from base velocity growth. Distribution was up slightly, driven by our new 30-gram protein shake. These gains were partially offset by the planned lower frequency of our bar promotions.

I'm very pleased that our growth continues to be well balanced across all product forms. As a reminder, our marketing strategy is unique among traditional food brands. It is based on Atkins distinctive nutritional philosophy, whose benefits are supported by over 100 independent peer-reviewed clinical studies. The brand stands distinctively for low-carb, low-sugar, protein-rich nutrition designed to avoid blood sugar spikes and help the body burn stored fat. Our marketing strategy focuses on communicating the benefits of this nutritional philosophy, while offering delicious convenient snacks that help consumers seeking to live a low-carb lifestyle.

Not surprising given our brand's unique positioning and our marketing approach, we are the only nutritious snacking brand that is well developed across bars, shakes and confections and that is achieving balanced growth across all these forms. Although no one has expected, our bar POS growth slowed sequentially from the first to the second quarter. As we stated last quarter, we made a strategic decision to curtail the frequency of promotion on bars in January and February.

Our strong results have given us the financial flexibility to invest in the business. As such, we're committed to increasing advertising and marketing at least in line with sales growth. In January, our new advertising began to air. Specifically, there are three new spots with Rob Lowe that builds off our successful today's Atkins campaign from a year ago. Similar to last year, the ads are designed to target both the programmatic and self-directed low-carbers. Importantly, the ads tested better than last year's copy, while early marketplace results are encouraging.

Over the last 12 months, evidence of our successful advertising campaign has been the solid POS growth as well as our ability to grow total buyers, while maintaining loyalty and buy rate consistent with historic levels. New products are an important element of our marketing strategy. Here you see some of our innovation, such as the Atkins wafer bars and our new 30-gram protein shakes.

New products are an important level -- lever that allows us to bring news and excitement to consumers and also enables us to introduce the brand and our nutritional philosophy to potential new buyers. Additionally, new products allows us to provide the needed variety to our current buyers, who typically consume on average 35 servings in their first year. This increases significantly in year two. So you'll continue to see us introduce flavor, line extensions, as well as a value-added new forms from time-to-time.

Overall, I'm very pleased with our performance in the quarter and the first half of the year. Second quarter and year-to-date results were strong with sales and profitability, meaningfully greater than our long-term target. For the balance of the year, we're confident in the effectiveness of our marketing, improved supply situation and our ability to invest in proven growth initiatives. However, beginning in our fiscal third quarter, the year-over-year comps begin to get more challenging. We are focused on driving topline growth, especially with new lifestyle self-directed low-carbers and believe the plans we have in place position us to deliver on our objectives.

Now, I'll turn the call over to Todd.

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Joe, and good morning, everyone. Let me start with two point as it relates to the numbers you see on the slides that follow. First, for comparative purposes, we will review financial statements for the quarters ended February 23, 2019, and February 24, 2018. Second, we evaluate our performance on an adjusted EBITDA basis based on our asset-light, strong cash flow model. We've included a detailed reconciliation from GAAP net income to adjusted EBITDA in today's press release. We believe this measure is a key indicator of the true underlying performance of the business.

Now for review of second quarter results across major metrics. Let me start with net sales. Core volume growth has been solid over the last year and continues to be the primary driver of our sales increase. Specifically in the second quarter volume increased 12.2%. As expected trade promotion or price realization was 3.5 points favorable in the second quarter, driven by reduced frequency of promotions on bar products versus last year. Recall, last year we mentioned this was a -- last quarter, we mentioned this was a lever to managing through some of the capacity constraints, particularly on bars. These gains were offset by the change in how we account for services provided by some of our customers. As we discussed last quarter, in the year-ago period, this cost was recorded in selling expense. We expect the impact in the second half of the year to be less than what we incurred in the first half.

Turning to the rest of the P&L, gross profit increased 14.7% to $57.6 million, with gross margin up 60 basis points to 46.6%. The increase in gross margin was primarily due to the favorable trade promotion, partially offset by the non-price related customer activity, the shift from selling expense. As we stated last quarter, this shift only impact fiscal 2019 amount and resulted in an unfavorable impact on 2019 gross margins of about 110 basis points. The increase in gross profit was partially offset by a 21% increase in marketing, driven by increased media and e-commerce investments as well the 24.7% increase in G&A due to cost associated with the strategic sourcing initiative and utilization of fiscal year '18 investments to enhance organizational capabilities in key function, and higher incentive compensation. Note that selling expense was lower than last year due to the aforementioned shift in non-price related customer activity.

Income tax expense in Q2 was $4 million versus a benefit of $26.8 million in the prior year. Recall in the second quarter of 2018 results, we recorded a $29 million one-time gain related to the remeasurement of deferred tax liabilities as well as the $4.7 million gain on fair value of the Tax Receivable Agreement. Our effective tax rate in Q2 2019 was about 24% versus 15% in fiscal year '18, excluding the aforementioned gain in the year-ago period. We anticipate that the full year tax rate will be in the 24% to 25% range. As a result, reported net income in the second quarter was $12.7 million versus $41.4 million last year.

Year-to-date results were as follows. Net sales were up 13.3% to $244.7 million and adjusted EBITDA increased 16.8% to 49.7 million. As I mentioned earlier, year-to-date net sales increase was driven primarily by organic core volume growth. Year-to-date gross profit increased 13.3% to $116.7 million with gross margin in line with the prior year. The shift in non-price related customer activity, from selling expense to trade, resulted in an unfavorable impact on 2019 gross margin of about 80 basis points, offset by reduced frequency of promotions on bar products of about 80 basis points as well. This was partially offset by other expenses including an 18.9% increase in marketing expense and a 20% increase in G&A, due to the cost associated with strategic sourcing initiative, annualization of FY '18 investments to enhance organizational capabilities in key function and higher incentive compensation. The year-to-date increase in taxes is primarily driven by the Q2 2018 gains mentioned earlier. As a result, year-to-date net income was $28 million versus $51.6 million last year.

Moving onto the balance sheet and cash flows, the Company's solid balance sheet and cash flow provides us with continued financial flexibility to support future organic growth and participate in value-enhancing M&A. Year-to-date cash generated by operating activities was $21.8 million, driven by net income, partially offset by higher inventory. In the second quarter, we rebuilt inventory to acceptable levels through a combination of supply improvements and reductions in promotional activity. Going forward, we are in an improved position to meet retailer and consumer demand and reinstate some promotional activity over the remainder of the year. As a result, we expect finished goods inventory to be lower in the second half of the year.

Year-to-date CapEx was $0.9 million and net cash provided by financing activities was $86.2 million, primarily driven by the cash received from the warrant exercise. Share buybacks in the quarter were nominal. Additionally, note that our full year CapEx forecast is about $2 million. Therefore, as of February 23, 2019, the Company had cash of $219 million. There is $197.5 million remaining on the outstanding term loan, resulting in a net cash position of $21.5 million. The Company also has a $75 million revolving line of credit available with no borrowings outstanding.

I would now like to turn the call back to Joe for brief closing remarks.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thanks, Todd. In summary, our results in the first half of the year were strong and we have entered the third quarter with significant momentum and an improved supply chain position. Given the strength and our momentum, we are more optimistic than last quarter in our ability to exceed our long-term net sales target of 4% to 6% growth. Specifically, we anticipate full year fiscal 2019 net sales and adjusted EBITDA to both increase double digits on a percentage basis versus last year. This full year outlook reflects significantly more challenging POS comps in the second half of the year, continued lower promotional volume on bars versus prior year as we manage bar demand within our available supply and incremental strategic investments in marketing and brand-building initiatives that will continue to drive growth over the long term.

Additionally, please note that we anticipate the increase in net sales in the second half of the year will outperform point of sales growth due to year-on-year customer inventory changes, as we entered Q3 this year with lower levels of inventory than the prior year. And as previously discussed, the fourth quarter benefits from the year-over-year positive impact of sales in transit and a 53rd week. We're excited about the growth opportunities that exist in our business and in our category. We're executing against our strategies well and growing buyers, while delivering on our financial objectives.

We appreciate everyone's interest in our Company and we are now available to take your question.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. At this time, we'll be conducting a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from the line of Jason English with Goldman Sachs. Please proceed with your question.

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hey, good morning folks. Thank you for -- and let me ask a question. Congratulations on the strong start here and not the strong start, but another strong quarter. The revenue growth you delivered were certainly impressive kind of if you strip out the accounting you're bit north of 15% all-in. It's still lagging the consumption by a fair amount. The point is still that you're showing and you mentioned the online is growing like 60% or so year-to-date. What's driving that delta? Why are we still not seeing net sales track closer to consumption all-in?

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, so what typically has happened in our business is, we have built inventory at the end of Q1 and in Q2 or a strong promotional period in our calendar year. Because of our supply constraints and you heard us talk about how we basically pulled back on all bar promotions in Q2, we did not build -- think of it almost as a new product pipeline build, we're shipping in a lot of volume into our retailers for all this promotional activity. We did not do that this year. And so -- and we did in the prior year, so we're lapping that inventory build. So what is going to happen -- what typically happens then is in Q3 and Q4 that inventory comes out of the system and because we did not build as much this year, we will not obviously have to deplete it much in the second half of the year. And as Joe mentioned, POS will -- net sales will outstrip POS in the second half of the year and that's what's causing that. So it's a tailwind in the second half, obviously was a headwind in the first half, but that's really what it is the shift in inventory at our customer level.

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Any sense of magnitude there that we should expect for the third quarter?

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

I don't know specifically about the third quarter, but you can think of it in the first half -- in the second quarter, probably about 4 or 5 points.

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Got it, OK. And you guys made some interesting comments about buy rate stepping up in year two, once you brought new consumers into the fold. Can you elaborate a little bit more on that and give us -- tell us if you still see -- if you're seeing it now with the new consumers you brought in last year and give us any sense of magnitude?

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Jason, this is Joe. Yeah, historically we've seen a significant step up in year two, year three buyers. So a year one buyer's buying in the mid-30s you kind of think about it is every other week consumer of our product as they move into year two in and year three, they're either twice a week. So you see pretty significant step up and in year two, year three and beyond buyers stay at that more than weekly buyer consumer. And so that's -- it's hard to tell what 2019 is going to look like because you don't know the answer to the total year until you get to the total year, but we -- with the comment that we made was around why innovation is important to our business.

You have two components to it. One, it's a way of introducing the brand to new buyers, but more importantly, when you're consuming a snack twice a week, you need a fair amount of variety. So new products are very important, especially to those two -- year two buyers rating our products twice a week. And that's the average buyer, right. So you can imagine heavier buyers (ph) who are eating it daily.

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Sure, sure. Got it. That's really helpful. Thanks guys. I'll pass it on.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Chris Growe with Stifel. Please proceed with your question.

Christopher Growe -- Stifel Nicolaus -- Analyst

Hi, good morning.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Hey, Chris.

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Chris.

Christopher Growe -- Stifel Nicolaus -- Analyst

Hi, nice quarter year. I just wanted to -- two quick questions for you. I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but the sort of consumption growth and the base velocity growth usually suggest an increase in shelf space, and there was a just part of one of the slides you showed some increase in points of distribution. That was positive in the quarter modestly. Is that accelerating and if it does, I guess in relation to your answer to Jason's question, do you have the supply to be able to accommodate more facings, for example and more distribution, if you are able to get that from retailers?

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yes, good question. We have for the last 12 months, as we've mentioned in our remarks, built our business on core velocity. In fact, in some forms, we've actually seen fewer items on the shelf. So we've seen some paring back that's kind of stabilized. We are seeing some growth now in our ready-to-drink shake business. Hard to say with the resets what the net's going to be at this point. I suspect we'll do a little bit better than we've done year-to-date over the next 12 months. Just because we've been able to -- we've actually for some pairing of items, as we focused on our supply issues, that'll stabilize and I would suspect we'll be stable if not a little bit positive, as we move into the next 12 months.

Christopher Growe -- Stifel Nicolaus -- Analyst

Okay. And then just a question for you in relation to marketing in the quarter, which was up and I'm just curious in terms of your supply constraints, which you don't have any more. I guess, would you have increased marketing more or (inaudible) should think about for the second half of the year as you get into a more normalized supply that you would want to increase your marketing and even greater rate than what you did here in the quarter?

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yes.

Christopher Growe -- Stifel Nicolaus -- Analyst

Okay.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Good question, Chris. Yes, we, with our supply constraints, we had a few levers we can pull, the demand -- slowdown demand. So, we focused on on-shelf inventory, pulled out of a lot of promotions on bars and we held back on marketing. You don't obviously want to go to zero there, because it generates new buyers, creates future growth. So we try to modulate the marketing spend. As we've emerged out of the supply situation, we're in a stronger position. We're not out of the woods, but we're in a stronger position. You can expect us to lean in on marketing investments in the second half of the year.

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

And, Chris, just a point of clarification. So what -- the way we've talked about this before, the way we account for advertising is, we peg it as a percent of sales based on our full year forecast of what our total spend will be. So what you're seeing coming through the P&L again, it is based on our full year estimate not where we're actually spending on media. The spend on media in the first half was not up very substantially. You're going to -- we will enjoy as now we're in a much better position on inventory, will actually be spend -- will be actually have more on-air advertising in the second half of the year and hopefully that will bring new buyers in as well.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Chris, also the one thing I would mention is, we don't just spend, hold our breath and go to the end of the year. So we're reading in market, we have an attribution model that we can follow that ties of POS. We get real-time data on our website as people visit the website have registered. So we're going to modulate the media up or down based on in-marketplace results as we're spending the money. And you would expect that -- you should expect us if we have the financial flexibility and the results are coming in really positive to lean in. And then, if that is not the case, you would expect us to be more modest in our investment.

Christopher Growe -- Stifel Nicolaus -- Analyst

That makes a lot of sense. Thank you for that color.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Have a good day.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Eric Larson with Buckingham Research Group. Please proceed with your question.

Eric J. Larson -- Buckingham Research Group -- Analyst

Yeah, good morning all and congratulations on a really good quarter. A couple of follow-up questions if -- to alleviate some of your supply constraints, have you -- have you committed to some capital to your co-packers? Did that happen with this or were you able to get your co-packers to put most of that capital upfront given the kind of the quality of your product line?

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, it's not really capital driven business. So as we saw our business start to accelerate last summer, it becomes really more about a negotiation to get access to available capacity. So as you can imagine suppliers, co-manufacturers try to lock in a 100% of their available capacity with their customers and then when some of their bigger customers like us are accelerating, then it's a negotiation to get access to more of that.

We will, as we move -- and we had some success in doing that. Our available supply increased in the 20% range from the summer till where we kind of are today, which has helped us to keep pace. As we go -- as you look at this longer term, it's around what you're going to need in the future and what you're willing to promise is a minimum, right in order to meet surge that you may not anticipate. So it's much more about negotiating. We will be bringing on some other manufacturers over time to help provide us a little bit more available capacity and also some surge capacity.

Eric J. Larson -- Buckingham Research Group -- Analyst

Okay. And just to follow up on how you've been managing that inventory. It's primarily been in bars and I think your goal was to get that POS growth down to kind of the low-to-mid teens, which is that's kind of exactly where it is right now. But I also thought that you had capacity constraints in other products. I thought you also had some in beverages. Is that not correct? Am I incorrect in that assessment?

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

We had available supply in shakes and as we moved into January to (inaudible) on display and promotion on shakes. Again our available supply, we pull two levers, right. So we try to slow -- we try to focus first on core items on the shelf on bar. So, we dialed back promotions, just so we could get it back in in-stock and we leaned in on supply. So the combination of those two things put us in a pretty good position as we exited January and are now moving into the second quarter. We're not out of the woods. If our business really stepped up again, we would be -- we would not have sufficient supply. So we're going to continue -- expect us to continue to manage that, but we're certainly in a much better position than we were going into the second quarter.

Eric J. Larson -- Buckingham Research Group -- Analyst

Okay, great. And then just one final follow-up. Just so that I'm perfectly clear and I think with part of Todd's explanation here. So your first half marketing spend was up just under 19%. Q2 was up plus 21%. It sounds like a bunch of that -- it sounds like a lot of that was an accrual -- was accrued expense. So are you effectively going to have more heat into the market, more actual marketing, more impressions in the market in the second half?

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yes. Media actual spend was in the mid-single digits in the first half and that will be up substantially more than that in the second half.

Eric J. Larson -- Buckingham Research Group -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Bill Chappell with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. Please proceed with your question.

Grant O'Brien -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey -- Analyst

Hi, this is actually Grant on for Bill. Thanks for taking the question.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Hey, Grant.

Grant O'Brien -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey -- Analyst

How are you?

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Good.

Grant O'Brien -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey -- Analyst

The first one, just kind of following up on the supply questions that have come for us here. Did you guys need to go back when you were negotiating for additional capacity and maybe give some margin back to the co-packers? And if so, would we expect those kind of margin pressures to abate going forward?

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yeah, so the -- really good question. So we gave up, I wouldn't say -- I'm not saying -- I wouldn't it phrase it, we gave up margin. As we build, as we take on more volume in our (inaudible) to get larger and larger rebates, we gave up a little bit of that upside, just to secure some more capacity, but the impact was very, very minor. And as we -- yeah, so that we will be back, once we get to the normal capacity engaged for the next 12 months, we will have a full impact of our margins and there should not be any issue. So again a tiny bit of an impact to secure more in the very short term, but it was very minor.

Grant O'Brien -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey -- Analyst

Got it. And then just a second one on the clean label initiative, how far along are you guys in that process? And have you seen a real impact at retail from that program?

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Yeah, we're almost -- we're complete -- mostly complete on meal bars and just about complete on our snack bars. So as we close out the year, the initiative will mostly be done. Really hard to tease out the components that started driving our business, January a year ago. I would certainly highlight three of them. The first one would be, our clean bar initiative. Second would be, we updated our graphics, which was the first refresh of our brand in over 10 years and then our new advertising campaign with Media Way. I think those three things kind of simultaneously hit the market in January, hard to know what each of the components, contribute frankly.

Grant O'Brien -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) Our final question comes from the line of Rob Dickerson with Deutsche Bank. Please proceed with your question.

Matt Fishbein -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Good morning. It's Matt on for Rob. Thanks for the question.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Sure.

Matt Fishbein -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Wanted to know if you can give us an update on your cost inflation outlook for the balance of the year and given the potential (inaudible) on marketing investments in the second half, is it safe to assume that full year EBITDA growth is now expected to grow more in line with sales growth, rather than slightly ahead like you previously expected? Thanks.

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So we have good visibility now in the second half for input costs. They continue to be benign, we see some inflation, but it's very modest. So that continues to be really positive news. Hard to say at this point what the relationship between net sales and EBITDA growth are going to be for the full year. As Joe mentioned earlier, look -- we will continue to invest in our business, if we continue to see really, really strong gains in new buyer growth and velocity growth. So if we see an opportunity to invest in the short term, we will absolutely do that, but we feel good about both net sales and EBITDA growth for the year.

Matt Fishbein -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay, fair enough. And if I can ask one more, have you noticed any changes to (inaudible) M&A environment since the beginning of the year in terms of maybe valuations or availability of assets? And that's it for me.

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

No big change. Still a very, very active market. We continue to look a lot of assets, valuations for the best assets continue to be fairly high. I think that's probably coming down a tiny bit, but still a very, very active market out there.

Matt Fishbein -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Great.

Operator

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen that concludes our question-and-answer session. I'll turn the floor back to Mr. Scalzo for any final comments.

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Thanks again for your participation on our call today. We look forward to updating you on our results in April. Have a good day.

Operator

Thank you. This concludes today's teleconference. You may disconnect your lines at this time. Thank you for your participation.

Duration: 35 minutes

Call participants:

Mark Pogharian -- Vice President, Investor Relations, Treasury and Business Development

Joseph E. Scalzo -- Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Todd Cunfer -- Chief Financial Officer

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Christopher Growe -- Stifel Nicolaus -- Analyst

Eric J. Larson -- Buckingham Research Group -- Analyst

Grant O'Brien -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey -- Analyst

Matt Fishbein -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

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