Maple Leaf Foods to invest in bacon plant in Winnipeg

Ends 2015 with a profit following streamlining efforts.

March 2, 2016   by CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Maple Leaf Foods, which ended 2015 with a $41.6-million profit for the full year, mostly from its fourth quarter, plans to invest in a bacon plant in Winnipeg.

The Toronto-area food processing company said it will raise its quarterly dividend by 12.5%.

The positive finish to the fiscal year came from efforts to streamline the company’s operations and growing consumer interest in its sustainable meat products, said CEO Michael McCain in a conference call with investors.

“Sustainable protein is a core growth platform for us,” he said, adding the category is yielding early results.

McCain, which has sold its profitable bakery business to focus on meat products – says its net income from continuing operations in the last three months of last year was $33.3 million, or 24 cents per share.

That compared with a $23 million loss or 16 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2014, or a $28.2-million loss equal to 20 cents per share if discontinued operations are included.

Sales rose almost 10% to $873.1 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $794 million. Full-year sales grew to $3.29 billion from $3.16 billion, up about 4%.

After adjustments, Maple Leaf earned $47.7 million in the fourth quarter. A year earlier, it had a $13.68 million adjusted loss overall in the fourth quarter.

The company said it will relaunch its Schneiders brand, giving it an updated look, as well as roll out several new products starting in the second quarter.

Maple Leaf will also invest more into its new bacon plant in Winnipeg, which is exceeding the company’s original operational expectations, McCain said.

“Bacon is certainly a category that’s in demand,” he said.

Maple Leaf’s board of directors is increasing the quarterly dividend to nine cents per share, up one cent or 12.5 per cent.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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