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Hain Celestial Group reports record net sales

Products owned by Hain Celestial Group Inc.

Products owned by Hain Celestial Group Inc. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Lake Success-based Hain Celestial Group Inc. Wednesday reported record fourth-quarter and fiscal-year sales, and higher profits, driven by distribution gains, new products and international acquisitions.

The organic and natural products company, with brands including Celestial Seasonings, Earth's Best, Terra and Spectrum, posted net sales for the fourth quarter of $583.83 million, an increase of 26 percent from $463.47 million in the same quarter a year ago. U.S. net sales grew 13.2 percent from last year to $323 million.

Worldwide net sales for fiscal 2014 ended June 30 were $2.154 billion, an increase of 24.2 percent, compared to $1.735 billion in the prior year. Earnings per share from continuing operations grew 12.3 percent to $2.83, and adjusted earnings per share were $3.17.

"Our business continues to benefit from strong growth trends in the organic and natural, better-for-you segment of consumer packaged goods," Irwin Simon, founder and CEO of Hain, said in a statement.

Net income for the fourth quarter rose to $35.72 million from $25.93 million in the corresponding period in 2013. Earnings per share climbed 32.1 percent to 70 cents from last year's 53 cents.

Net income for the fiscal year was $139.85 million compared to $114.66 million the previous year.

Hain also forecast its revenue in fiscal 2015 would be in the range of $2.73 billion to $2.80 billion, an increase of about 27 percent to 30 percent. It also projects it will reach $3.5 billion in worldwide sales by 2018, without acquisitions.

"The U.S. food market is estimated to reach $800 billion by 2017," Simon said during a conference call Wednesday. "Our objective is just to take away 1 percent, and that is just worth $800 million."

During the fiscal year, Hain completed acquisitions of Tilda, a basmati and specialty rice products company based in the United Kingdom, and Rudi's Organic Bakery, an organic and gluten-free bread and baked goods company in Colorado. Hain also introduced more than 200 products worldwide. It employs more than 6,000 workers.

Hain expects to increase its distribution with the help of Whole Foods' plan to expand to 1,200 stores throughout the United States.

Hain's nSpired Natural Foods subsidiary initiated a voluntary recall Tuesday of peanut and almond butters because of possible salmonella contamination. The nut butters were sold under the brand names Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butters, MaraNatha Almond Butters and Peanut Butters, and private-label brands for Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger and Safeway. As a result, the company has accrued costs of $6 million as of June 30.

"We will execute this recall quickly and efficiently, and we plan to begin restocking retailers' shelves with fresh, great-tasting MaraNatha products early next week," John Carroll, executive vice president and CEO of Hain Celestial U.S., said during the conference call.

Hain shares rose 11.02 percent to $96.51.

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