U.S. Markets closed

Annie's 4th-quarter profit soars on strong demand

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Annie's Inc. reported Monday that its fiscal fourth-quarter net income soared on improved sales, a lower tax rate and the absence of a frozen pizza recall that weighed down results last year.

The natural and organic food maker said it earned $4.2 million, or 24 cents per share, for the quarter that ended March 31. That's compared to net income of $58,000, or 5 cents per share, available to shareholders last year. On an adjusted basis, it earned 29 cents per share versus 24 cents per share last year.

Annie's total revenue shot up 23 percent to $52.7 million from $43 million, with major gains in its meals and snacks sales, particularly sales of its signature mac and cheese at traditional grocery stores and retailers.

The quarter came in ahead of market expectations. Analysts, on average, were anticipating earnings of 28 cents per share, on revenue of $50.3 million, according to FactSet.

Annie's CEO John Foraker said the company entered this fiscal year in a position of strength. Consumer interest in natural & organic foods continues to increase, and as one of the leading brands in the niche, he said the company stands to benefit from the trend.

The Berkeley, Calif.-based company plans to expand its distribution, build awareness of its brand and introduce new products, such as a single-serve microwavable mac & cheese product that it unveiled Monday.

For the full fiscal year, the company posted net income of $11.6 million, or 65 cents per share, compared with $290,000, or 26 cents per share, for the prior year. Revenue rose 20 percent to $179 million from $141.3 million.

Annie's said it expects to earn between 97 cents and $1.01 per share in its new fiscal year, with revenue increases of 18 to 20 percent. Based on its 2013 results, that forecast suggests revenue of $200.6 million to $204 million for the year.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $1 per share on revenue of $201.4 million.

Annie's shares soared ahead of the earnings report, increasing more than 6 percent to close Monday trading at $41.68. Shares slipped 68 cents to $41 in after-hours trading.