Horizon Organic posts sharp turnaround; 4th-quarter profit up, sales rise 62.6 percent; Dairies


Horizon Organic Holding Corp., the company that opened a dairy on Maryland's Eastern Shore last year and is eyeing the recently closed Naval Academy Dairy Farm for expansion, reported a sharp turnaround yesterday in fourth-quarter and year-end operations.

Net income for the Boulder, Colo., company for the three months that ended Dec. 31 was $586,000, or 6 cents a common share. In the final quarter of 1997, the company posted a loss of $281,000, equal to 6 cents a share.

Sales rose 62.6 percent to $14.7 million, from $9 million.

Operating income, which included interest payments on funds from its initial public offering last year, was $772,000. This compares with an operating loss of $44,000 in the like part of 1997.

For the full year, Horizon posted a profit of $486,000, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $49.4 million. During 1997, it recorded a loss of $1 million, equal to 23 cents a share, on sales of $29.6 million.

Barney Feinblum, president and chief executive officer of the company that markets organic dairy and fruit juice products nationwide under the Horizon brand name, said the year just ended marked "a terrific turning point."

Arnold Ursaner, an analyst who follows Horizon for CJS Securities Inc. in White Plains, N.Y., was bullish on its performance. "They are really, really doing well," he said. "Their gross profit margin for the year was 33.9 percent. They can't keep that up, but we expect margins to remain strong."

Horizon markets its products in more than 8,100 supermarkets and natural food stores across the country. Ursaner said Horizon added the Safeway stores in the Baltimore-Washington region to its customer base during the fourth quarter.

Donald Gaidano, Horizon's chief financial officer, said the company's dairy near Kennedyville, in Kent County, is "up and running with 556 milking cows." He said it supplies much of the company's East Coast sales.

Gaidano said Horizon is holding talks with the U.S. Naval Academy with hopes of obtaining a long-term lease for the academy's 865-acre dairy farm in Gambrills.

He said Horizon would like to use the land to raise organic grain, raise heifers, house milking cows and for milk processing.

Pub Date: 2/04/99

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