SunOpta Announces Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2009 Results

SunOpta Inc., a leading global company focused on natural, organic, and specialty foods and natural health products, today announced financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2009. All amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars and results are reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP, except where specifically noted.

For the fourth quarter of 2009, the Company realized revenues of $245.5 million versus revenues of $245.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2008.

Adjusted earnings(1) for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $3.9 million or $0.06 per diluted common share versus an adjusted loss(1) in the comparable period in 2008 of ($1.1) million or ($0.02) per diluted common share. On a GAAP basis the Company realized a loss of ($2.2) million or ($0.03) per diluted common share for the quarter versus a loss of ($17.0) million or ($0.27) per diluted common share for the fourth quarter of 2008.

Fourth quarter results include a non-cash write-down of tax assets of $0.9 million and additional pre-tax costs of $7.6 million related to a number of restructuring and related costs. Additional pre-tax costs include $3.6 million related to ongoing product and facility rationalization efforts including non-cash charges of $1.2 million; legal and professional costs of $3.0 million related to the 2007 restatement and class action settlement, legal costs related to completion of a number of ongoing legal matters and costs related to banking amendments; a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $0.5 million in the Fruit Group and pre-tax costs of $0.5 million related to the ongoing revitalization and re-launch of a number of company owned natural health products brands. Adjusted earnings(1) excluding the impact of foreign exchange gains for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $3.6 million or $0.05 per diluted common share versus an adjusted loss(1) excluding the impact of foreign exchange gains of ($0.7) million or ($0.01) per diluted common share in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Results for the fourth quarter of 2009 reflect significant improvement in operating performance versus the fourth quarter of 2008 and continued operating performance improvement versus the third quarter of 2009. Gross margins increased to 15.9% for the quarter versus 11.7% in the fourth quarter of 2008. On a segment basis the SunOpta Ingredients Group had record earnings in the quarter achieving operating margins of 17.8%. For the fourth quarter of 2009 operating earnings within SunOpta Food Group increased 124% to $4.4 million versus $2.0 million in the same period in 2008. Opta Minerals Inc. realized operating earnings of $0.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2009 versus a loss of ($2.4) million loss in the fourth quarter of 2008.

For fiscal 2009 the Company realized revenues of $989.1 million versus fiscal 2008 revenues of $1,055.2 million.

For 2009 the Company reported a loss on a GAAP basis of ($6.8) million or ($0.10) per diluted common share versus a loss of ($10.9) million or ($0.17) per diluted common share in fiscal 2008. Adjusted earnings(1) for fiscal 2009 were $12.9 million or $0.20 per diluted common share versus adjusted earnings(1) in fiscal 2008 of $13.3 million or $0.21 per diluted common share. Fiscal 2009 results include the impact of a non-cash write-down of tax assets of $0.9 million and additional pre-tax costs of $24.8 million including net non-cash charges after minority interest of $4.8 million related to the impairment of goodwill in Opta Minerals Inc. and $0.5 million related to impairment of goodwill in the SunOpta Fruit Group; pre-tax costs of $10.1 million related to ongoing product and facility rationalization efforts including non-cash charges of $2.3 million, pre-tax costs of $3.2 million related to the ongoing revitalization and re-launch of a number of company owned natural health products brands and additional legal and professional fees of $6.2 million related to the 2007 restatement and class action settlement, a legal action in the SunOpta BioProcess Group, settlements of other legal matters and costs related to banking amendments. Adjusted earnings(1) excluding the impact of foreign exchange gains for fiscal 2009 were $12.2 million or $0.19 per diluted common share versus adjusted earnings(1) excluding the impact of foreign exchange of $10.2 million or $0.16 per diluted common share in fiscal 2008.

At December 31, 2009 the Company's balance sheet reflects a current working capital ratio of 1.37 to 1.00, long-term debt to equity ratio of 0.37 to 1.00 and total debt to equity ratio of 0.65 to 1.00. The decrease in the working capital ratio compared to 2008 is due to presenting the $45 million term loan due December 20, 2010 as a current liability at December 31, 2009. During fiscal 2009 the Company generated cash from operating activities of $44.9 million including cash generated from working capital of $27.3 million, reflecting ongoing efforts to reduce working capital, especially inventories, across the Company. The Company also continued to focus on reducing debt and realized a decrease in net debt of $34.4 million in fiscal 2009. At December 31, 2009 the Company has total assets of $551.3 million and a net book value of $3.58 per outstanding share.

At year-end, the Company is in compliance with all financial covenants.

Steve Bromley, President and Chief Executive Officer of SunOpta commented, "We are very pleased with the continued improvement in operating results within our core business segments. Our balance sheet continues to improve with reduced working capital levels and net reductions in debt. We remain focused on improving operating margins and return on assets employed and are very pleased that our extensive restructuring and repositioning initiatives are having a positive effect on our results. We are confident that this focus, when combined with growing consumer interest in health and wellness, positions our Company for long-term success. We are looking forward to a return to profitability in 2010."

The Company plans to host a conference call at 10:00 AM Eastern Time on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 to discuss these results and recent corporate developments. The conference call can be accessed via a link at the Company's website at www.sunopta.com. Additionally, the call may be accessed with the toll free dial-in number 1-866-551-3680 or 212-401-6760 followed by pass code: 8061610#. A replay number can also be accessed between March 11th and 21st with the toll free dial-in number 1--866-551-4520 or 212-401-6750 followed by pass code: 260041#.

About SunOpta Inc.
SunOpta Inc. is an operator of high-growth ethical businesses, focusing on integrated business models in the natural and organic food and natural health markets. The Company has three business units: the SunOpta Foods, which specializes in sourcing, processing and distribution of natural and organic food products integrated from seed through packaged products; Opta Minerals Inc. /quotes/comstock/11t!opm (CA:OPM 1.45, 0.00, 0.00%) (66.4 % owned by SunOpta), a producer, distributor, and recycler of environmentally friendly industrial materials; and SunOpta BioProcess Inc. which engineers and markets proprietary steam explosion technology systems for the bio-fuel, pulp and food processing industries. SunOpta believes that each of these business units has proprietary products and services that give it a solid competitive advantage in its sector.

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