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Saputo’s Q4 profits hit by COVID-related shift in consumer demand

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Saputo Inc. saw earnings fall in its most recent quarter, missing analyst expectations, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in consumer demand late in the fourth quarter.

The Montreal-based dairy processor says net earnings for the three-months ended March 31 totalled $88.7 million, compared with $124.2 million for the same time the previous year.

Adjusted net earnings excluding one-time items were $98.8 million, down from $125.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2019.

It noted the pandemic did not affect revenues significantly, but that it saw consumer demand shift globally for its products in the last two weeks of the fiscal year. Revenue increased almost 15% to $3.72 billion from $3.24 billion.

It saw an increase in retail demand, while orders from food service and industrial customers started to fall.

“We expect sustained retail sales in all of our geographies, but we cannot predict how long or how significant the increased demand levels will remain,” said Lino Saputo.

Analysts expected adjusted net income of $136.4 million on $3.5 billion of revenues, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

For the full-year it earned $582.8 million on $14.94 billion in revenues, compared with $755.3 million on $13.5 billion in 2019. Adjusted profits equalled $723.6 million, up from $655.1 million a year earlier.

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