Post Holdings Inc (POST) Hurt by Falling Prices

It may have been a win for consumers, but cereal maker Post Holdings Inc (NYSE:POST) lost out when its second-quarter earnings got milled by falling prices on top of higher costs.

The owner of brands such as Raisin Bran and Honey Bunches of Oats saw profits tumble almost 60% to $5.1 million as net sales fell 1% on a 4% decline in prices even though volumes rose. The price declines were driven primarily by trade spending, which accounted for 60% of the drop, and the rest was due to product mix. Trade spending is a marketing expense paid to retailers like supermarkets to promote the sale of a product through displays in the store. It’s one of the reasons smaller cereal companies have a tough time breaking through the barrier and selling their products.

For Post Holdings Inc (NYSE:POST), trade spending for the quarter included higher slotting fees for its new product introductions. Margins can rise or fall depending on how much trade spending is done. In 2011 margins were significantly helped because of a dramatic 18% decline in such spending.

It’s an industrywide cost that can account for large portions of net sales, and it continues to consume a large portion of sales. For example, trade promotions by Kellogg Company (NYSE:K) represented 40% of the company’s net sales in 2012. General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) doesn’t break out the expense, but when it acquired Yoplait last year, it admitted it would be increasing its marketing on top of an already elevated promotional budget due to greater trade spending.

Boston Consulting Group has found that consumer products manufacturers spend upward of $60 billion annually in the U.S., and that trade spending outpaced the growth of revenues by 3% between 2008 and 2010.

Post Holdings Inc (NYSE:POST)’s results were also affected by higher interest expenses as a result of last year’s spinoff from Ralcorp, which ended up getting acquired by ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) earlier this year. It carries a load of debt due to breaking away from its former parent, and last October the cereal maker issued $250 million in senior notes, sending interest expense this quarter up to $21.6 million, up 43% from the $15.1 million expense recorded a year ago.

With breakfast cereals a highly competitive niche, grappling for every advantage is a common practice for the industry, but it’s a competitive one. Post Holdings Inc (NYSE:POST)’s stock, which has gained more than 30% so far this year, just posted a near 6% decline yesterday on those earnings numbers. With the stock still trading at nearly 26 times earnings estimates, it may be easier for investors to swallow Kellogg Company (NYSE:K) or General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS), which sit at 16 and 17 times estimates, respectively.

The article Post Holdings Hurt by Falling Prices originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Rich Duprey.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Insider Monkey Headlines
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy

Insider Monkey beat the market by 52 percentage points in 24 months Click to see monthly returns in table format!

Lists

Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd (QIHU), Actavis plc (ACT), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Among 20 Long Ideas from Sohn Canada

The 10 Laziest Countries in the World

The 10 Most Polluted Countries in the World

The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in America 2014

The Top 10 Gold Producing Countries in the World

The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World

The 10 Richest Stand Up Comedians in the World

The 10 Fattest Countries in the World

The 5 Best Summer Jobs for Teens

The 10 Most Religious Countries in the World Keeping the Faith

The 10 Most Educated Countries in the World

The 10 Most Popular Cell Phones in the World

The 10 Drunkest Countries in the World

The 10 Most Expensive Private Schools in the World

The 10 Smallest Countries in the World

Walking Dead Season 5 Spoilers You’ll Wish You Didn’t Know

The 10 Poorest Countries in the World

The 10 Greenest Countries in the World

The Top 10 Countries with the Highest Population in the World

The 10 Most Visited Countries in the World

The Top 10 Star Wars Characters in the Iconic Series

The 10 Most Expensive Android Phones in the World

5 Reasons Why The Illuminati Is Real and a Threat to Society

The 6 Scariest Halloween Costumes Ever Screamed At

The 4 Biggest Hedge Fund Managers in the World Today

The 15 Most Densely Populated Countries in the World

The 10 Biggest Tea Drinking Countries in the World

Top 6 Ways to Improve Your Checkout Process and Close Sales

The 5 Most Profitable Online Businesses You Can Start Today

The 20 Most Profitable Hospitals in the US

The 5 Most Profitable Home Businesses to Start

The 7 Teams that Will Win the Stanley Cup in 2015

The Top 10 Most Expensive Digital Cameras to Snap Stunning Shots With

The 10 Highest Quality Fast Food Restaurants In America Today

The 8 Best Halloween Decorating Ideas to Spook Up Your House

10 Marvel Women that Should Get a Movie Right Now

The 20 Best Remixes of Popular Songs that Will Make You Forget the Originals

7 Most Expensive Cities in the World

5 Least Expensive Cities in the World

10 Celebrities Who Believe In Scientology

10 High Margin Food Products to Build a Business Around

The 10 Most Expensive Clothing Stores in the United States to Get Decked Out At

The 5 Biggest Kickstarter Scams That Swindled Backers’ Donations

The 10 Most Expensive Boarding Schools In the World

50 Crazy Facts About Japan You Won’t Believe

Top 10 Least Expensive Hybrid Cars to Save the Planet With

The 10 Biggest ‘Gate’ Controversies in History

The 10 States with the Highest Nursing Shortages Leaving Their Hospitals Depleted

The 10 Best Value Investment Blogs that Every Investor Must Read

The 6 Cheapest Boarding Schools in Europe 2015

Subscribe

Enter your email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

X

Thanks! An email with instructions is sent to !

Your email already exists in our database. Click here to go to your subscriptions

Insider Monkey returned 47.6% in its first year! Wondering How?

Download a complete edition of our newsletter for free!