Keurig reports third quarter net sales up 6 percent


WATERBURY -- Keurig Green Mountain announced Wednesday it would pay a quarterly cash dividend of 25 cents per share in October. The news accompanied the Waterbury-based company's quarterly earnings report that said net sales were up $1.02 billion, or 6 percent, from a year ago.

CEO Brian Kelly highlighted year-over-year shipment growth of 15 percent for the firm's trademark K-cup single-serve ground coffee packs. Shipments of Keurig brewing equipment grew by 13 percent from last year, he said in a news release.

"We delivered net sales of approximately $1 billion for the quarter, driven by 9 percent currency-neutral growth of our core single serve business," Kelley said in the release.

In a conference call, he said that exceeding growth targets was especially significant, given the "dilutive impact" of the company's decision to issue shares to Coca-Cola and Lavazza earlier in the year.

The primary growth driver in the third quarter was K-cup portion packs, accounting for $826.3 million in third quarter net sales. Not accounting for consumer returns, 1.7 million Keurig brewing systems were sold - a 4 percent drop in value from the same quarter a year ago.

He said still more growth will come from with the pending launch of a revamped Keurig machine, new brands added to the single-serve lineup, and a new cold-beverage Keurig system in development.

Keurig is also expanding into high-volume brewing with a 64-ounce commercial batch brewing system, to be marketed for office use and some food service environments. The firm said it is moving cautiously into international markets, as well.

Frances Rathke, Keurig's CFO, said the cash dividend is possible even while the company invests in new products such as the cold brewer.

"To date this fiscal year, including the $700 million accelerated stock repurchase we announced last quarter, we've returned $1.1 billion in cash to shareholders through a combination of our share repurchases and dividends," Rathke said. "At the same time, we have maintained an extremely strong balance sheet."

One headwind the company faces is increased costs of green coffee beans, which some financial analysts are concerned may dilute profits.

Kelley said that in the past year, despite significant share issuances, R&D investments and other challenges, Keurig has performed well and continues to find new markets.

"We believe that we can continue to deliver like we did this year on our long-term outlook," Kelley said.

The company will release its Fiscal Year 2015 earnings expectations in the next quarter.


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