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United Natural (UNFI) Stock Tumbles Despite Q3 Earnings Beat

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Shares of United Natural Foods, Inc. UNFI tumbled 15.7% on Jun 9, as the company delivered gloomy results for third-quarter fiscal 2021. The top and the bottom line declined on a year-over-year basis. Additionally, net sales missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. To top it, management stated that it now expects to end fiscal 2021 net sales toward the lower end of its previously-offered view.

Quarter in Detail

United Natural’s adjusted earnings of 94 cents per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. However, the bottom line declined 29.3% from $1.33 per share reported in the year-ago quarter. The year-over-year decline can be attributed to lower net sales and drab adjusted operating income.

Net sales from continuing operations came in at $6,620 million, which lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $6,825.3 million. Moreover, net sales declined 5.9% year over year. Notably, the year-ago quarter’s sales figure reflects gains from solid initial consumer demand as the coronavirus broke. On a two-year stack basis, net sales increased 6.7%. Management believes the metric to be appropriate for comparison given the unprecedented activity in the year-ago quarter.

United Natural Foods, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

United Natural Foods, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
United Natural Foods, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

United Natural Foods, Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | United Natural Foods, Inc. Quote

The company’s gross margin rate came in at 14.6% as a percentage of net sales, down from 14.9% reported in the year-ago quarter. The downside was caused by reduced supplier-related income in the Wholesale segment. Moreover, retail gross margin rate were unchanged year over year.

Adjusted operating income came in at $100.4 million in the quarter, down from $138.9 million reported in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted operating income, as a percentage of net sales, fell from 1.97% to 1.52%. The downside was due to reduced gross margin rate and deleverage of lower sales. These were somewhat countered by reduced pandemic-induced expenses and decline in incentive compensation costs.

Adjusted EBITDA came in at $179.5 million, down from $222.2 million posted in the year-ago quarter. The downside was mainly due to same factors that affected operating income in the quarter.

Segment Sales

Net sales in Supernatural inched up 0.6% year over year to $1,287 million. On a two-year stack basis, the metric rallied 16.6%. Management highlighted that its recently signed long-term agreement with a key customer is an upside. The company is committed toward supporting the customer as they inaugurate new locations as well as enhance operational efficiencies and customer experience.

Net sales in the Chains channel fell 5.6% to $2,949 million. On a two-year stack basis, the metric improved 5.4%. The company is encouraged by year-over-year improvement from cross-selling wins with many key chain customers.

Net Sales in the Independent retailers channel came in at $1,599 million, down 11.4% year over year. On a two-year stack basis, the metric increased 3.8%. In the Retail channel, net sales declined 9.3% to $578 million. On a two-year stack basis, the metric jumped 14.9%. Other sales came in at $580 million, down 3.2%.

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Other Updates

The company ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $39.5 million, long-term debt of $2,314.2 million and total shareholders’ equity of $1,301.1 million. Total debt (net of cash) in the fiscal third quarter came in at $2.4 billion, down $62 million from the preceding quarter. This decline was caused by $129 million in cash provided by operations in fiscal third quarter, including gains from reduced net working capital somewhat offset by capital expenditures. The net debt to adjusted EBITDA leverage ratio improved slightly to 3.3x as of third-quarter-end.

Fiscal 2021 Guidance

Although the company’s top line has moderated from the year-ago period’s spike, operational efficiencies and the ValuePath productivity initiative keep it well-positioned to deliver fiscal 2021 adjusted EBITDA and adjusted earnings per share (EPS) at the upper end of the previous guidance. The company expects to deliver net sales at the low end of the guidance range on extended timing of onboarding new business wins.

Management anticipates fiscal 2021 net sales at the lower end of $27-$27.8 billion. This suggests 3.3% growth over fiscal 2020 at the midpoint. United Natural expects adjusted EBITDA toward the upper end of the previous guidance of $690-$730 million that indicates a 5.5% rise over fiscal 2020 at the midpoint. Also, it envisions adjusted earnings at the higher end of its earlier guidance of $3.05-$3.55 per share, which indicates an increase of 21.3% from fiscal 2020 levels at the midpoint.

This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company still expects fiscal 2021 capital expenditure in the range of $250-$300 million and approximately $250 million of net debt reduction.

Markedly, the company’s stock has declined 12.7% in the past three months against the industry’s growth of 7.2%.

Some Solid Food Bets

Medifast, Inc. MED, currently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 12.7%, on average. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Darling Ingredients Inc. DAR, currently sporting a Zacks Rank #1, has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 29.8%, on average.

Nomad Foods Limited NOMD, currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 10.3%, on average.

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