Falling sales, more impairment charges at Kraft Heinz

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Kraft Heinz said "consumer takeaway trends" were "improving"

Kraft Heinz said “consumer takeaway trends” were “improving”

Kraft Heinz‘s shares curdled today (8 August) after the baked beans and ketchup maker reported falling half-year sales and profits – and another round of impairment charges.

The US giant saw its net income more than halve and its net sales decline almost 5% in the six months to 29 June.

Kraft Heinz, which named former Anheuser-Busch InBev executive Miguel Patricio CEO earlier this year, recorded a US$15.4bn write-down of goodwill in February. Today, the company booked another $1.2bn in impairment charges.

Kraft Heinz, meanwhile, withdrew its guidance for its 2019 annual results. Shares in Kraft Heinz, which by the close of trading yesterday had already seen their value drop by almost 29% in 2019, were down more than 12% on the day at the time of writing (12:21 ET)

Patricio, announced as Kraft Heinz CEO two months after the $15bn write-down, called the company’s results “unacceptable”.

“The level of decline we experienced in the first half of this year is nothing we should find acceptable moving forward. We have significant work ahead of us to set our strategic priorities and change the trajectory of our business,” Patricio said. 

“But in my short time with the company, I have developed a strong appreciation for the affinity consumers around the world continue to have for our brands, the talent and determination of our employees, as well as the commitment of our customers. We have a lot to work with and build upon, and our team is motivated by the opportunity to drive the next phase of growth and profitability for Kraft Heinz and our shareholders.”

Kraft Heinz’s first-half net sales fell 4.8% to $12.37bn. On an organic basis, net sales were 1.5% lower, with exchange rates and M&A further weighing on the company’s top line.

The business, which counts Heinz baked beans, Kraft cheese and Plasmon baby food among its brands, said its sales performance came “despite improving consumer takeaway trends in key markets”.

Kraft Heinz said its “volume/mix” dipped 0.2 percentage points amid “unfavorable changes in retail inventory levels in North America”, as well as “lower shipments in EMEA and Rest of World markets”. The company pointed to “solid consumption growth” in the US and Canada.

First-half net income stood at $854m, compared to $1.76bn a year earlier. The company’s operating income dropped 54.6% to $1.3bn.

In preparing its results, Kraft Heinz said it had concluded the fair values of “certain goodwill and intangible assets” were below their carrying amounts, leading to non-cash impairment charges to lower the carrying amount of goodwill in its EMEA East, Brazil, United States Refrigerated, and Latin America Exports units by a total of approximately $744m.

Kraft Heinz said the move was “primarily based on new five-year operating forecasts for several international businesses”, which, the company said, “establish revised expectations and priorities for the coming years in response to current market factors”.

The group also booked another $474m in charges to lower the carrying amount of “certain intangible assets”. Kraft Heinz said that was done due to the “application of a higher discount rate to reflect the markets’ perceived risk in the company’s valuation”.

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