TORONTO, ONTARIO--Stake Technology Ltd. (Stake) (Nasdaq:STKL) (TSX:SOY) today announced results for the three months ended March 31, 2003. All amounts are expressed in US dollars.
The Company achieved record sales and earnings for the three months ended March 31, 2003, realizing its 22nd consecutive quarter of record sales growth and first quarter with sales in excess of $40 million. Sales in the quarter increased by 78% to $41,411,000 as compared to $23,283,000 in the first quarter of the prior year. These results were led by a 98% increase in sales within the Company's vertically integrated natural and organic food operations, driven by a combination of internal growth and the acquisitions completed in late 2002.
Net earnings for the first quarter were $1,064,000 or $0.03 per common share compared to $23,000 or $0.00 per common share in the first quarter of 2002. The increase over the prior year was due to a number of factors including increased sales of aseptic packaged soymilk products, increased sales of bulk grains and specialty beans, cost reductions throughout the organization and the impact of the acquisitions in late 2002 of Opta Food Ingredients (Opta), Wild West Organic Harvest and Simply Organic.
The Company continues to maintain a strong balance sheet with working capital of $14,141,000 and total assets of $109,485,000. During the first quarter the Company completed the refinancing of the banking facilities used to finance the acquisition of Opta, thus reducing the debt to equity ratio for the Company from the 0.74:1 as at December 31, 2002 to 0.51:1 at the end of the quarter.
The Company has announced that it expects to achieve revenues of $175,000,000 in 2003, an increase of 45% versus 2002. The increase is based on a combination of continued internal growth and the impact of the food-based acquisitions completed in the fourth quarter of 2002.
Jeremy N. Kendall, Chairman and CEO of Stake Technology Ltd., commented that, "We are extremely pleased with the record results realized in the first quarter of 2003 and are confident that these results will continue to improve as we integrate our recent acquisitions and pursue many exciting opportunities in the fast growing natural and organic foods sectors. We remain committed to profitably growing our business and in doing so, driving solid shareholder value."
Stake Technology Ltd. is an owner/operator of high-growth ethical businesses, focusing on integrated business models in the natural and organic food markets. For the last four consecutive years, Stake was included in Profit magazine's 'Profit 100' list of the 100 fastest growing companies in Canada. Currently, the company has three business units: the Food Group, which specializes in identity-preserved (IP) grain products and natural and organic food products; from seed to packaged product; the Environmental Industrial Group; a producer, distributor, and recycler of industrial materials; and the Steam Explosion Technology Group who market clean pulping technologies. Each of these business units has proprietary products and services that give it a solid competitive advantage in its sector.
Note: This news release may contain forward-looking information. Actual future results may differ materially. The risks, uncertainties, and other factors that could influence actual results are described in the Company's annual report to shareholders and in SEC reports.