November 22, 2019 / 12:12 PM / 23 days ago

J.M. Smucker expects coffee, snacks businesses to offset dog food weakness

(Reuters) - J.M. Smucker Co (SJM.N) on Friday signaled that improving demand in its coffee and snack segments would counter weakness in its premium dog food business, helping investors look past the Jif peanut butter maker’s lowered full-year forecast.

The company’s shares reversed course from premarket losses to trade up 5%, as company executives also said the decline in its dog food business in the second quarter was isolated.

“While, challenges to sales growth persist in certain categories which drove the revision to our full-year guidance, much of our business is performing at expected levels or above,” Chief Financial Officer Mark Belgya said on a post-earnings call.

Smucker has been investing heavily in its pet food business, making acquisitions to remain competitive in the fast-growing space.

The company has added brands such as Milk Bone and celebrity chef Rachel Ray’s Nutrish through the acquisition of Big Heart Pet Brands and Ainsworth Pet Nutrition to bolster sales.

Sales in the segment, Smucker’s biggest, fell 2% in the quarter, while sales in its high-margin coffee segment were flat.

The weakness in the pet food business was isolated to premium brands Nutrish and Natural Balance, Chief Executive Officer Mark Smucker told Reuters.

Still, profit at the pet foods unit jumped 11%, while that in its coffee segment rose 5%.

“It sounds like the rest of business is firing on all cylinders, including Uncrustables and new product Jif Power-Ups all showing strong growth. Besides dog food, the company is performing pretty well,” said Arun Sundaram, analyst at research firm CFRA.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.26 per share in the quarter ended Oct. 31, above Wall Street estimate of $2.13, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

However, the company lowered its fiscal 2020 adjusted earnings forecast range to between $8.10 and $8.30 per share, from $8.35 to $8.55.

Smucker also forecast full-year sales to fall 3%, lower than its previous guidance of a decline of 1% to flat.

Net sales fell 3.2% to $1.96 billion in the quarter, below the average analyst estimate of $1.97 billion.

Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Nivedita Balu; Editing by Maju Samuel

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