posted a fourth-quarter loss, sending shares down sharply in midmorning trading.
In the quarter ended May 31, the bakery and fresh bread distributor lost $4.57 million, or a 10 cents a share, including certain charges, compared with earnings of $22 million, or 45 cents a share, in the prior-year quarter.
Excluding charges, the maker of Wonder Bread had a loss of 5 cents a share. Analysts were expecting a loss of 3 cents a share.
The Kansas City, Mo.-based company cited a reduction in branded sales volume and increases in costs related to ingredients, energy and employees. Interstate said sweet-goods unit volume for the quarter fell 8.2% from last year, while total bread volume fell 1.7%. Revenue during the quarter was $818 million, down 1.8%.
"The soft economy has been a particular problem for snack cakes over recent quarters, but branded bread, too, is proving not to be immune to the soft sales environment," said Chief Executive James R. Elsesser. The cost of cocoa, shortenings and flour were high in the quarter as well.
Recently, shares of the company were down 8.4% at $10.72 on the
New York Stock Exchange
Interstate said it has initiated a review of production capacity and is eliminating sales activities considered only marginally profitable in order to confront its current operational issues. Notably, the company said it will review operations at two of its underperforming bakeries.
The company said it would not provide full-year and first-quarter earnings projections. Analysts' consensus is 82 cents a share in 2003 and 24 cents a share in the first quarter.