Gross margin rose
A strong Kettle North America performance in the snack segment, where a sharp volume rise resulted in significant operating leverage and reduced cost of goods sold, also improved the gross margin.
Other key results of fiscal 2015
The company generated adjusted EBITDA (earnings before income, tax, depreciation, and amortization) of $29.3 million in fiscal 4Q15, compared to $23.9 million in the prior fiscal year period. As mentioned in the press release, adjusted EBITDA excludes stock-based compensation and various other items. For fiscal 2015, adjusted EBITDA also improved by 17.7% to $123.8 million. Also, gross margin for fiscal 2015 rose to 26.4% versus fiscal 2014. The non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) net earnings on a fully diluted basis for the year equaled $34.7 million, or $1.10 per share.
The company’s competitors in the industry include Campbell Soup (CPB), ConAgra Foods (CAG), and Mead Johnson (MJN). They reported gross margins of 37.9%, 25.1%, and 64.5%, respectively, for their last reported quarters. The Guggenheim S&P Equal Weight Consumer Staples ETF (RHS) and the iShares Morningstar Large Growth ETF (JKE) respectively invest 2.8% and 0.28% of their portfolios in the MJN stock as of December 3.