November 28, 2018 / 12:46 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 2-J.M. Smucker blames competition for forecast cuts, shares fall 5 pct

(Adds CEO, analyst comment, details on unit businesses, share price)

Nov 28 (Reuters) - J.M. Smucker Co on Wednesday missed Wall Street estimates for second-quarter results, as stiff competition forced the food company to cut prices for Folgers coffee and Jif peanut butter, and also lower its full-year forecasts.

The company’s shares fell 4.9 percent at the opening bell after it lowered its profit expectations to $8.00-$8.20 per share from $8.40-$8.65 per share and sales forecast to $7.9 billion from $8 billion.

With more retailers offering their shelf space to organic and natural products, Smucker has been forced to lower prices of its Folger coffee and Jif peanut butter to fend off competition and keep up its relationship with sellers. This has added pressure on the company which has been spending more to acquire firms and launch more premium products in its pet foods, coffee and snacks businesses.

“The stock had outperformed into the quarter, so it will likely be pressured today, but we continue to recommend the stock given the ongoing pivot to better growth and more premium products,” Susquehanna analyst Pablo Zuanic said. The company’s stock has gained 6.4 percent quarter to date.

On a post-earnings call, Chief Executive Officer Mark Smucker said profit outlook cut was due to increased competition in coffee and lower prices, as well as incremental promotional spend in peanut butter and fruit spreads.

The company also blamed a shift in timing of retailer orders for weakness in its U.S. pet foods business. Sales at the business, its biggest, rose 32 percent in the quarter, mainly due to acquisition of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition in April. Excluding that deal, sales fell 1 percent.

Profits also declined due to the discontinuation of certain Gravy Train pet food products as well as lower prices and higher freight costs. Sales at its U.S retail coffee business that sells Folgers and Dunkin’ Donuts branded coffee fell 1 percent due to lower prices.

Net income fell to $188.5 million, or $1.66 per share, in the quarter ended Oct. 31. Excluding items, Smucker earned $2.17 per share but missed analysts’ average estimate of $2.34 per share.

Net sales rose 5 percent to $2.02 billion, missing analysts’ average estimate of $2.05 billion, , according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (Reporting by Soundarya J and Ishita Chigilli Palli in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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