Investors sure seemed nuts about Diamond Foods'
The results were a tough nut to crack, though. Net sales increased 5%, to $112.4 million. The company earned $0.05 a share this quarter, compared to $0.21 a year ago. The comparison's not so bad when you factor out one-time items, which whittles the year-ago number down to $0.12 per share.
While the quarter doesn't look great, it does cap off a year in which the company earned $0.56 a share, beating its guidance of $0.50-$0.55 a share. Diamond is investing in its brands, and it hopes to continue gaining market share in its snack line. Its share of the snack nut market reached 5.1% in the United States, and its Emerald products grew more than 18 times faster than the category as a whole.
Now that its Harmony acquisition is completely integrated, Diamond has the resources to launch new products, producing fruitful sales results. Snack sales grew 58.3%, to $26.3 million, now accounting for more than 41% of Diamond's total North American retail sales. That figure's up from 31% a year ago.
Given these growth rates, it's not hard to imagine that Diamond's its snack-food business, particularly its Emerald line, becoming a major player soon. For this coming year, management expects snack sales to increase 50%-65%, and earnings to reach $0.80-$0.90 a share. That's a nice 40%-60% jump from this year's figure. If you consider that growth aggressive, note that management met this year's goal of doubling snack sales to $80 million.
Management clearly has confidence in the future, hiking its quarterly dividend 50% to $0.045 a share. Right now, about one-fifth of its sales are generated from Wal-Mart
I like what the company has accomplished so far, even in the face of rival brands such as Planters. However, Fools should note that at 32 times trailing earnings, this jewel's shares aren't cheap.