Hain Celestial up 9%, sets cost-cutting plan

Hain Celestial founder and CEO Irwin Simon.

A 9 percent jump in year-over-year earnings marked a strong third quarter for innovative food products company Hain Celestial Group.

The Lake Success-based distributor of the Celestial Seasons, Earth’s Best and Terra chips brands recorded adjusted earnings of 49 cents per share for the quarter ended March 21, the third quarter of Hain Celestial’s fiscal 2016.

Net sales rose 13 percent over their 3Q FY2015 levels, to $750 million, despite an estimated $13.9 million loss to unfavorable – and often changeable – foreign currency exchange rates, the company said.

Hain Celestial brands including Garden of Eatin’, FreeBird, Plainville Farms and Sensible Portions all logged year-over-year gains, helping the company boost quarterly profits by 9.8 percent over their fiscal 2015 levels (to $173.2 million) and also increase adjusted operating income by 3.8 percent (to $80.5 million).

The global distributor ended its third quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $125.4 million and more than $1.8 billion in shareholders’ equity, despite long-term debt of more than $879 million.

While reporting its 3Q FY2015 financials this week, Hain Celestial introduced a number of growth-focused strategic initiatives, including Project Terra, an internal review projected to create some $100 million in cost savings through fiscal 2019.

The company is also planning the launch of five “strategic platforms” in its U.S. markets, including Pure Personal Care, Fresh Living and a number of initiatives under the Better-For-You banner.

Management also announced plans to sell off some brands – resulting in a potential $30 million payday – and promoted James Meiers, the president of Celestial Seasonings and head of the Hain Celestial supply chain, to the newly created position of chief operations officer to oversee these and other initiatives. Meiers will report directly to founder and CEO Irwin Simon.