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Rogers Sugar Inc.: 4th Quarter 2019 Results

SUGAR VOLUME INCREASES FOR THE FIFTH YEAR IN A ROW

CONTINUED COMPETITIVE PRESSURE IN THE MAPLE PRODUCTS SEGMENT

MONTREAL, Nov. 20, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rogers Sugar Inc.’s (the “Company” or “Rogers”) (RSI.TO) today reported fourth quarter and year-to-date fiscal 2019 results. The Company recorded adjusted EBITDA (1) of $22.2 million and $87.8 million for fourth quarter and year-to-date of fiscal 2019, respectively, versus $26.3 million and $99.9 million for the comparable periods last year.

“While we made progress against our core strategies and have positioned ourselves well for the future, 2019 presented a number of challenges and our results did not meet our expectations,” said John Holliday, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rogers and Lantic Inc. “In the last half of the year, we experienced continued competitive pressure in the maple segment; however, we remain focused on optimization and cost improvement to maintain and improve our competitive advantage. Market conditions remain positive in our sugar business with the fifth straight year of volume increases. We remain confident in our long-term strategy and are well-positioned for the future.”

Fourth Quarter Highlights

Highlights of the consolidated results are as follows:

(unaudited) Fourth Quarter
   Fiscal Year
(In thousands of dollars, except volume and per share information)   2019   2018     2019   2018
Sugar (metric tonnes) 196,903   200,147   741,144   719,875
Maple syrup (‘000 pounds) 10,163   10,549   42,377   45,919
               
  $   $   $   $
Total revenues 207,572   211,807   794,292   805,201
Gross margin 29,073   29,255   122,575   130,853
Results from operating activities (32,800)   18,231   24,147   84,100
Net (loss) earnings (40,021)   9,633   (8,167
)
  48,729
Net (loss) earnings per share (basic) (0.38)   0.09   (0.08
)
  0.46
Net (loss) earnings per share (diluted) (0.38)   0.09   (0.08
)
  0.43
Dividends per share 0.09   0.09   0.36   0.36
Non- IFRS results (1)              
Adjusted Gross Margin (1) 29,026   32,764   116,578   126,362
Adjusted results from operating activities (1) 17,153   21,740   68,150   79,609
Adjusted EBITDA (1) 22,215   26,332   87,808   99,942
Adjusted net earnings (1) 9,910   12,122   37,079   45,032
Adjusted net earnings per share (basic) (1) 0.09   0.12   0.35   0.43
Trailing twelve months free cash flow (1) 30,843   47,802   30,843   47,802


(1) See “Non-GAAP Measures” section of the MD&A for definition and reconciliation to GAAP measures
   
  • Solid sugar volume confirms a fifth year in a row of volumes increases in the Sugar segment
  • Adjusted EBITDA (1) lower than last year for both reported segments
  • Goodwill impairment of $50.0 million recorded for the Maple product segment due in part to recent changes in the competitive environment and lower growth expectations  
  • Progress continued on the maple segment footprint optimization project in the quarter. While temporary delays and cost increases impacted the current period, the project is expected to be completed in the coming quarters and to generate significant long-term benefits through improved efficiency and lower operating costs
  • Air emission project in Taber was completed on time and on budget, prior to the start of the beet slicing campaign
  • Free cash flow (1) for fiscal 2019 was $17.0 million lower than the previous year mainly explained by a decrease in adjusted EBITDA (1), an increase in income taxes and interest paid as well as higher capital and intangible spending, net of operational excellence capital, somewhat offset by a reduction of $3.3 million for the repurchase and cancellation of shares. 
  • The Company returned $10.0 million to shareholders during the quarter, of which $9.4 million was through dividends and $0.6 million was through share repurchases
  • On November 20, 2019, the Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.09.

Please refer to the MD&A for additional details on the consolidated results of the Company. 

Segmented Information

The following is a table showing the key results by segments:

Consolidated results
(In thousands of dollars)
Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2019   Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2018
   Sugar   Maple
Products
  Total     Sugar   Maple
Products
  Total
Revenues $ 159,432 $ 48,140 $ 207,572   $ 161,040 $ 50,767 $ 211,807
Gross margin   24,643   4,430   29,073     21,640   7,615   29,255
Administration and selling expenses   4,730   2,622   7,352     4,751   2,215   6,966
Distribution costs   3,465   1,056   4,521     2,908   1,150   4,058
Goodwill impairment   -   50,000   50,000     -   -   -
Results from operating activities $ 16,448 $ (49,248) $ (32,800)   $ 13,981 $ 4,250 $ 18,231
Non- GAAP results (1):                          
Adjusted Gross Margin (1) $ 24,358 $ 4,668 $ 29,026   $ 25,798 $ 6,966 $ 32,764
Adjusted results from operating activities (1) $ 16,163 $ 990 $ 17,153   $ 18,139 $ 3,601 $ 21,740
Adjusted EBITDA (1) $ 19,662 $ 2,553 $ 22,215   $ 21,570 $ 4,762 $ 26,332
Additional information:                          
Addition to property, plant and equipment and intangible assets $ 7,054 $ 1,081 $ 8,135   $ 10,894 $ 608 $ 11,502
         
Consolidated results
(In thousands of dollars)
Fiscal 2019   Fiscal 2018
   Sugar   Maple
Products
  Total     Sugar   Maple
Products
  Total
Revenues $ 595,878 $ 198,414 $ 794,292   $ 601,958 $ 203,243 $ 805,201
Gross margin   100,301   22,274   122,575     102,578   28,275   130,853
Administration and selling expenses   21,609   9,962   31,571     21,070   11,001   32,071
Distribution costs   13,153   3,704   16,857     10,760   3,922   14,682
Goodwill impairment   -   50,000   50,000     -   -   -
Results from operating activities $ 65,539 $ (41,392) $ 24,147   $ 70,748 $ 13,352 $ 84,100
Non- GAAP results (1):                          
Adjusted Gross Margin (1) $ 94,032 $ 22,546 $ 116,578   $ 99,659 $ 26,703 $ 126,362
Adjusted results from operating activities (1) $ 59,270 $ 8,880 $ 68,150   $ 67,829 $ 11,780 $ 79,609
Adjusted EBITDA (1) $ 73,135 $ 14,673 $ 87,808   $ 81,324 $ 18,618 $ 99,942
Additional information:                          
Addition to property, plant and equipment and intangible assets $ 22,645 $ 4,468 $ 27,113   $ 23,352 $ 1,792 $ 25,144


(1) See “Non-GAAP Measures” section of the MD&A for definition and reconciliation to GAAP measures
   


Sugar              
(In thousands of dollars, except volume) Fourth Quarter
  Fiscal Year
  2019   2018   2019   2018
Revenues $ 159,432   $ 161,040   $ 595,878   $ 601,958
               
Volume (MT) as at September 29, 2018 200,147       719,875    
Variation:              
Industrial (7,152)       1,242    
Consumer (16)       4,122    
Liquid 4,771       18,590    
Export (847)       (2,685)    
Total variation (3,244)       21,269    
Volume as at September 28, 2019 196,903       741,144    
               

Our sugar segment generated solid results with historically strong volumes with the majority of the growth driven by the liquid segment. The Taber air emission project was completed on time and on budget as well as good progress was made in the fourth quarter at the Vancouver refinery toward achieving its targeted refining and cost performance improvements. 

The decrease for the quarter in the industrial market segment is mostly due to non-recurring sales to a competitor that occurred in the fourth quarter last year and due to timing in certain large industrial accounts.

Total consumer volume increased for the current fiscal year due mainly to the additional volume negotiated with a National retail account for which additional shipments started in April of this year.   In the fourth quarter, the additional volume from this National retail account was offset by lower volume from other consumer accounts as a result of timing in retail promotional activities during the quarter, which explains why the overall consumer volume for the fourth quarter was comparable to the same period last year.  

The liquid market continued to deliver higher volume when compared to the prior year for both the quarter and the fiscal year due mainly to additional demand from new and existing customers as well as the recapture of some business temporarily lost to High Fructose Corn Syrup (“HFCS”).    

Finally, the export volume decreased for the quarter and year-to-date when compared to last year due to less volume shipped to Mexico, somewhat offset by opportunistic U.S. high tier sales.   

The decrease in revenues for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 and year-to-date versus the comparable periods last year is mainly explained by a decrease in the weighted average raw sugar values in Canadian dollars, since the cost of raw sugar for all domestic sales is passed on to the Company’s customers which more than offset the increase in revenues generated by the additional volume for both periods. 

(In thousands of dollars, except per metric tonne information)   Fourth Quarter Fiscal Year
   2019     2018     2019     2018
Gross margin $ 24,643   $ 21,640   $ 100,301   $ 102,578
Total adjustment to cost of sales (1) (2)   (285)     4,158     (6,269)     (2,919)
Adjusted gross margin (1) $ 24,358   $ 25,798   $ 94,032   $ 99,659
Gross margin per metric tonne $ 125.15   $ 108.12   $ 135.33   $ 142.49
Adjusted gross margin per metric tonne $ 123.71   $ 128.90   $ 126.87   $ 138.44
Included in Gross margin:                      
Depreciation of property, plant and equipment $ 3,298   $ 3,252   $ 13,072   $ 12,813


(1) See “Non-GAAP Measures” section of the MD&A for definition and reconciliation to GAAP measures
(2) See “Adjusted results” section of the MD&A
   

Adjusted gross margin for the current quarter was $1.4 million lower than the last quarter of fiscal 2018, mainly explained by lower sales volume as well as some additional operating costs.   The current quarter’s adjusted gross margin rate was $5.19 per metric tonne lower than last year. This decrease is mostly explained by a somewhat unfavourable sales mix with higher liquid sales and lower export sales and additional operating costs, mostly related to the fine tuning of the Vancouver refinery following a major capital investment earlier this year.

Year-to-date, adjusted gross margin decreased by $5.6 million.  On a year-to-date basis, the Vancouver commissioning issues added approximately $4.6 million in one-time incremental costs caused by large amounts of overtime, significant refining materials usage and additional natural gas usage in a time period when there was a disruption in natural gas supply in British Columbia, which significantly increased natural gas transportation costs during the second quarter.  In addition, fiscal 2018 included a non-cash pension plan income of $1.5 million recorded as a result of an amendment to a defined benefit pension plan.  Therefore, excluding these two items, adjusted gross margin would have been $98.6 million for fiscal 2019 versus $98.2 million for the comparable period last year, representing an increase of $0.4 million.  This increase was due mainly to a higher sales volume and additional by-product revenues, somewhat offset by lower #11 raw sugar values during the first quarter of the current year, when compared to the same period last year, which had a negative impact on Taber’s domestic sales gross margin and to higher operating costs.  Adjusted gross margin per metric tonne amounted to $126.87 for fiscal 2019 or $133.08, when excluding the one-time costs in Vancouver. In fiscal 2018 adjusted gross margin of $138.44 included the non-cash pension plan income mentioned above, representing $2.05 per metric tonne, thus reducing adjusted margin to $136.39 for fiscal 2018. The reduction of $3.31 in adjusted gross margin per metric tonne is mainly explained by the lower #11 raw sugar values in the first quarter of the current year, a different sales mix with higher liquid volume and to a lesser extent, higher operating costs. 

Administration and selling expenses were comparable to the fourth quarter of last year but $0.5 million higher than fiscal 2018, mainly due to additional employee benefits expenses.     

Distribution costs for the fourth quarter were $0.6 million higher than the comparable period last year, mainly due to additional transfers between location and additional warehousing costs.  Year-to-date, distribution costs were $2.4 million higher than last year due to additional freight costs as a result of additional sales volume in the first half of the year as well as to product transfers between locations, of which, approximately $0.8 million relates to the commissioning issues in Vancouver encountered in the second quarter of this year.

(In thousands of dollars)  Fourth Quarter
  Fiscal Year
   2019     2018     2019     2018
Results from operating activities $ 16,448   $ 13,981   $ 65,539   $ 70,748
Total adjustment to cost of sales (1) (2)   (285)     4,158     (6,269)     (2,919)
Adjusted results from operating activities $ 16,163   $ 18,139   $ 59,270   $ 67,829
Depreciation of property, plant and equipment and amortization of intangible assets   3,499     3,431     13,865     13,495
Adjusted EBITDA (1) (2) $ 19,662   $ 21,570   $ 73,135   $ 81,324


(1) See “Non-GAAP Measures” section of this MD&A for definition and reconciliation to GAAP measures
(2) See “Adjusted results” section of this MD&A
   

Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter decreased by $1.9 million when compared to the last quarter of fiscal 2018, which is explained by lower adjusted gross margins of $1.4 million and higher distribution costs of $0.6 million, excluding depreciation and amortization expense, as explained above.  Year-to-date, adjusted EBITDA was $8.2 million lower than fiscal 2018.  The decrease year-to-date is mainly explained by lower adjusted gross margin due in large part to one-time costs incurred at the Vancouver refinery, as explained above, and to higher distribution costs attributable to higher sales volume and transfers between locations, in part as a result of the commissioning issues in Vancouver and somewhat higher administrative and selling expenses. 

Maple products

Results in our Maple products segment were lower in the fourth quarter when compared to the same quarter last year as a result of continued increased competition and slowing market growth. As a result of these changes, we have reviewed the longer-term outlook for this business and have taken a $50.0 million impairment charge to satisfy accounting principles.

Revenues for the current quarter were $2.6 million lower than the same period last year, which is mainly explained by short-term production capacity constraints, associated with the optimization of the operational footprint, causing delays in certain shipments and the continuation of competitive activities. Year-to-date, revenues decreased by $4.8 million versus fiscal 2018.  The shortfall caused by increased competition, certain delivery delays due to the relocation of production between facilities and the reduction in promotional activities associated with a shortage of certain syrup in the second quarter, more than offset the additional revenues generated by Decacer for the full first quarter of the current year as compared to fiscal 2018.

(In thousands of dollars, except adjusted gross margin rate information)  Fourth Quarter
  Fiscal Year
   2019     2018     2019     2018
Gross margin $ 4,430   $ 7,615   $ 22,274   $ 28,275
Total adjustment to cost of sales (1) (2)   238     (649)     272     (1,572)
Adjusted gross margin (1) $ 4,668   $ 6,966   22,546   $ 26,703
Gross margin percentage   9.2%     15.0%     11.2%     13.9%
Adjusted gross margin percentage (1)   9.7%     13.7%     11.4%     13.1%
Included in Gross margin:                      
Depreciation of property, plant and equipment $ 557   $ 309   $ 1,855   $ 1,479


(1) See “Non-GAAP Measures” section of the MD&A for definition and reconciliation to GAAP measures
(2) See “Adjusted results” section of the MD&A
   

Adjusted gross margin for the current quarter was $2.3 million lower than the comparable period due in large part to lower volume and to competitive pressure.  Adjusted gross margin rate decreased by 4.0% from last year due mainly to competitive pressure, unfavourable sales mix and additional operating costs. Year-to-date, adjusted gross margin was $4.2 million lower than last year, representing a decrease in adjusted gross margin percentage of 1.7%, mainly explained by a decrease in volume, by margin contractions and additional operating costs due to short-term inefficiencies associated with the operational footprint optimization.  In addition, the second quarter results were negatively impacted by low inventories of certain syrup grades which required additional purchases from the Producteurs et Productrices Acéricoles du Québec’s (“PPAQ”) reserve at a premium as opposed to a discount last year. 

Administration and selling expenses were $0.4 million higher than the fourth quarter last year due to an increase in allowance for doubtful accounts, timing of expenses and an increase in non-recurring costs in the current quarter.  Year-to-date, administration and selling expenses were $1.0 million lower than last year, mainly explained by a reduction in non-recurring costs.  Fiscal 2019 includes $0.4 million in non-recurring costs associated with the footprint optimization project while fiscal 2018 included non-recurring costs and acquisition costs relating to Decacer totalling $0.9 million and $0.7 million, respectively, representing a year-over-year variation of $1.2 million.  Excluding these one-time costs, administration and selling expenses were $0.2 million higher than last fiscal 2018. 

(In thousands of dollars)  Fourth Quarter
  Fiscal Year
   2019     2018     2019     2018
Results from operating activities $ (49,248)   $ 4,250   $ (41,392)   $ 13,352
Total adjustment to cost of sales (1) (2)   238     (649)     272     (1,572)
Adjusted results from operating activities (1)   (49,010)     3,601     (41,120)     11,780
Non-recurring expenses:                      
Acquisition costs incurred   -     -     -     675
Other one-time non-recurring items   131     (4)     437     923
Finished goods value at the estimated selling price less disposal costs as of the acquisition date   -     -     -     261
Depreciation and amortization   1,432     1,165     5,356     4,979
Goodwill impairment   50,000           50,000     -
Adjusted EBITDA (1) $ 2,553   $ 4,762   $ 14,673   $ 18,618


(1) See “Non-GAAP Measures” section of the MD&A for definition and reconciliation to GAAP measures
(2) See “Adjusted results” section of the MD&A
   

Adjusted EBITDA decreased by $2.2 million and $3.9 million for the fourth quarter and the full twelve months of fiscal 2019 due mainly to lower adjusted gross margins and higher administration and selling expenses, as explained above, somewhat offset by a reduction in distribution costs.

Outlook

Sugar

We estimate that the current 2019 beet crop should derive a quantity of refined sugar ranging between 60,000 to 70,000 metric tonnes, as opposed to 125,000 metric tonnes as previously expected, following severe adverse weather in Alberta. The decision was made in early November to terminate the beet harvest as severe snow and frost damage resulted in an inability to store or process the unharvested damaged sugar beet crop.  The Company is reviewing all available options to service its customers, one of which will include the supply of cane sugar from the Vancouver and Montréal refineries as they both have excess capacity.  The Company will work to mitigate the financial implication of a smaller sugar beet crop.

Given the smaller crop in Taber, export volume is expected to be approximately 15,000 metric tonnes lower than fiscal 2019.  The Company has a long-term relationship with its customer in Mexico and, as a result, we were able to reduce its shipments in fiscal 2020 and roll commitments into fiscal 2022 at no additional costs to the Company.  Shipments to the USA under the Canada-specific U.S. quota of 10,300 metric tonnes have been fully considered in our reconfigured supply chain and will be fully delivered in fiscal 2020. 

The Company anticipates that the consumer segment should be approximately 10,000 metric tonnes higher than fiscal 2019.  During the current fiscal year, the Company gained additional business with an existing consumer account which started in April 2019 and as such, will improve consumer volume in fiscal 2020. 

The Taber factory delivers a significant portion of its volume to liquid customers, which is still expected to occur in fiscal 2020.  Therefore, the Company’s liquid segment is expected to be comparable to fiscal 2019.

Industrial volume should be slightly lower than fiscal 2019.

Despite the challenges expected as a result of a small crop in Taber, the Company anticipates that the overall sales volume in fiscal 2020 should be approximately 735,000 metric tonne, thus approximately 6,000 metric tonnes lower than fiscal 2019. 

On May 22, 2019, the Alberta Legislature announced that Bill 1, An Act to Repeal the Carbon Tax, will take effect on June 1, 2019.  Bill 1 has effectively removed the carbon tax in Alberta, which was set at $1.517 per gigajoule by the previous government.  On June 13, 2019, the Canadian government announced that on January 1, 2020, the Federal government will impose a carbon tax on Alberta, which will be equivalent to the carbon tax that was removed on June 1, 2019.  The Alberta government has launched a constitutional challenge in court.  Then on October 30, 2019, the Alberta government proposed a new carbon tax on large emitters called the “Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (“TIER”)” system that would tax large emitting facilities.  The Federal government is reviewing the proposal by Alberta in order to decide if it will continue to impose or not the Federal carbon tax on Alberta. It is unclear how the carbon tax will be calculated starting on January 1, 2020 but in light of the reduced beet crop, it is not expected to have a significant financial impact as the slicing campaign should be completed by the end of December.  Savings of approximately $2.7 million are expected in the first half of fiscal 2020 as a result of the temporary removal of the carbon tax in Alberta as well as the shorter slicing campaign.  No other changes are expected on carbon tax in British Columbia and Québec.

In light of the smaller crop in Taber, it is expected that distribution costs will increase in fiscal 2020 since our supply chains will be out of balance.

With the completion of the air emission project, capital spend for the Sugar segment is expected to return to a level of approximately $20.0 million, including a high proportion of return on investment capital expenditures. 

Maple products

In fiscal 2019, the Company experienced increased competitive activities as a result of a new entrant in the maple bottling business.  We are confident in our ability to defend our market share; however, as a result of the increased competition, we have experienced margin pressures in the Maple products segment and anticipate these pressures to remain until current market conditions improve.  In addition to defending our current market share, the Company will continue to invest in the business to lower operating cost and build new sales volume through the pursuit of new markets and value-added products.

As part of our strategy to enhance our competitive advantage, we have embarked on a footprint optimization project that will result in increased capacity. Once the footprint optimization project is completed, the Company will be well positioned to have ample capacity to respond to future growth and be more competitive through more cost-efficient facilities.   The footprint optimization, with the repurposing of the St-Honoré-de-Shenley facility, the relocation of the Granby facility and the expansion of the Degelis facility, has, in the short-term, created some short-term operational inefficiencies and capacity constraints in the second half of fiscal 2019.  The Company has taken several steps to address the core operational issues by temporary augmenting its production capacity by increasing staffing in order to add production hours as well as transferring some production to its Vermont facility. As a result, we expect the Degelis site to continuously improve and hit target efficiencies by the end of the first quarter of calendar 2020. Granby operations have taken on some of the production overflow from Degelis and will complete a planned transition to a new site by January 31, 2020. We expect that the economic benefit of this transition will start to be realized after the second quarter of fiscal 2020.  No changes are expected in our Vermont facility.

The Company expects to spend approximately $7.0 million for its footprint optimization, of which, approximately $4.0 million will be spent in fiscal 2020 to complete the Granby relocation.

See “Forward Looking Statements” and “Risks and Uncertainties” sections of the MD&A.

Mark-to-Market Measures

With the mark-to-market of all derivative financial instruments at the end of each reporting period, our accounting income does not represent a complete understanding of factors and trends affecting the business.  Consistent with previous reporting, we prepared adjusted gross margin and adjusted earnings results to reflect the performance of the Company during the period without the impact of the mark-to-market of derivative financial instruments.  Earnings before interest and income taxes (“EBIT”) included a mark-to-market gain of a nominal amount and $6.0 million for the fourth quarter and year-to-date of fiscal 2019, respectively, which was deducted to calculate the adjusted EBIT and adjusted gross margin results.   Adjusted EBITDA represents EBIT, adjusted for the total adjustment to cost of sales for mark-to-market of derivative financial instruments, depreciation and amortization expenses, non-cash goodwill impairment and the Maple products segment non-recurring costs.  See “Non-GAAP measures” section in the MD&A.

Access to Quarterly Results Information

Rogers Sugar Inc. (RSI) will be holding a conference call to discuss their 2019 fourth quarter results on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 at 17:30 (Eastern Time).

The conference call will be chaired by Mr. John Holliday, Chief Executive Officer and Ms. Manon Lacroix, Chief Financial Officer.

Conference Call and Webcast Presentation

If you wish to participate, please dial 1-877-223-4471. A recording of the conference call will be accessible shortly after the conference, by dialing 1-800-585-8367, access code 3493498#. This recording will be available until November 27, 2019.

FOR THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS,

M. Dallas H. Ross, Chairman
Vancouver, British Columbia – November 20th, 2019

For further information:
Ms. Manon Lacroix, Vice President Finance, Chief Financial Officer and Secretary
Tel:  (514) 940-4350 Fax: (514) 527-1610 - Visit our Website at www.LanticRogers.com