The food industry is a safe bet since demand for food will always exist. Moreover, price increases affect this industry less than others as consumers will continue to buy food even if its price increases. Thus, this industry has attracted a large number of players, which has led to increased competition. Hence, it is difficult for companies in this industry to continue to grow if they do not strategize well.
B&G Foods (NYSE:BGS) is one of these players, and it has been increasingly active on the strategic front. It continues to expand its footprint and add new products to its list of offerings. However, its first-quarter results did not meet expectations. The numbers came in below the Street's estimates, which hurt its share price after the announcement.
Although B&G Foods' revenue stood at $198.1 million for an increase of 15.7% in the year-ago period, the estimates called for revenue of $203.8 million. This growth in revenue mainly resulted from a host of acquisitions made by the company in the last year. Excluding the effects of the recent buyouts, revenue from the base business decreased 4.6% from the year-ago period. The decline in the base business resulted from lower volumes and price decreases during the quarter.
B&G Foods' earnings for the period dropped to $0.33 per share from $0.37 per share in the year-ago quarter. Its earnings also failed to meet analysts' expectation of $0.38 per share. Higher distribution costs and costs of acquisition hampered B&G's bottom line. Also, a marketing push, especially for the newly added brands, weighed on the company's bottom line. Net price declines and higher distribution costs also affected the company's gross margin, which fell to 32.6% from 34.4% in last year's quarter.
Acquisition -- a vehicle of growth
B&G Foods' secret of growth is in its acquisitions. It made a number of buyouts last year, each of which made a good contribution to its first quarter's results. The largest contribution came from Pirate Brands, acquired in July last year, which contributed $20.4 million to the company's sales during the quarter. Rickland Orchards and TrueNorth registered net sales of $8.6 million and 5.8 million during the quarter, respectively.
B&G Foods has posted much higher revenue growth than its peers General Mills (NYSE:GIS) and Pinnacle Foods (NYSE:PF). The chart below depicts the revenue growth of each of these players:
Clearly, B&G Foods has outpaced its peers with revenue growth of 25.9% since March 2013. General Mills and Pinnacle Foods have grown their revenues by 7.7% and 15%, respectively. B&G has been able to boost its revenue by adding new businesses.
However, General Mills has also made a number of acquisitions, which include Food Should Taste Good in February 2012, Yoplait in May 2012, and Yoki Alimentos SA in August of the same year. Food Should Taste Good added to the natural snack food portfolio of the company, whereas Yoplait helped expand the company's Greek yogurt business.
Pinnacle Foods has also used acquisitions as a tool to expand its portfolio of offerings. It acquired the Wish-Bone salad dressing line in October 2013, which is the market leader in Italian salad dressings. Hence, Pinnacle will be able to benefit from Wish Bone's popularity. Moreover, the branded food retailer will be able to enhance its margins since Wish-Bone brands have high-margin products. Also, Pinnacle Foods will be able to enjoy the benefits of cost synergies through this acquisition.
Although B&G Foods has outperformed its peers in terms of revenue growth over the past year, its stock price has not yet shown the effect of this. The retailer registered less share price appreciation than its peers over the same time-frame. A stock price chart of the three food companies appears below:
Future shines bright
B&G Foods' host of acquisitions is expected to bear fruit in the coming months. Moreover, the company has increased its promotional efforts for the new additions. Hence, it should attract more customers.
In addition, the food company is on the verge of completing another buyout which will take place by the end of this month. It plans to acquire Specialty Brands, a leading packaged-foods company. Specialty Brands' pasta dishes, dry soups, and rice dishes should add to B&G's top line .
Moreover, the company updated its earnings outlook for fiscal 2014 and the new outlook surpassed analysts' expectations. It now expects earnings in the range of $1.59-$1.65 per share, whereas analysts had expected $1.58 per share.
Therefore, B&G Foods has a large number of reasons to expect a better future. Although its last quarter was unattractive, it expects a delightful year ahead. Its upcoming acquisition and the benefits of its recent acquisitions should help drive its revenue north. On top of all that, the branded-food company has performed better than its peers. Investors should definitely consider this company a lucrative investment.
Pratik Thacker has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.