- WhiteWave Foods reported a 12.8% jump in fourth-quarter revenue to $1.03 billion, the second consecutive quarter with more than $1 billion in sales. Full-year 2015 sales increased by 12.5% to $3.87 billion.
- Net income soared for the company in 2015, with a 45.5% boost for the quarter and 20% increase for the year.
- Sales of plant-based foods and beverages, including Silk and Vega products, rose 29% in 2015 (26% for Q4), and premium dairy, including Horizon Organic products and Wallaby yogurt, grew full-year sales by 18% (22% for Q4). Net sales of Americas fresh-foods segment fell 5% for the year, disrupted by SAP software complications.
WhiteWave could be an acquisition target. It's fallen from its position as one of the best-performing U.S. food stocks over the past few years, and that stock has plunged 30% from its peak in August. But company growth is strong and steady, with analysts estimating WhiteWave's revenue growth rate at 50% faster than other companies.
Sources say investors are interested, and WhiteWave could be being targeted for a sale by a duo of activists at Hudson Executive Capital LP. WhiteWave representatives have already sat down with them, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
WhiteWave's own two strategic acquisitions in 2015, Wallaby and Vega, have performed well and were drivers for their individual categories. But key for the company this past year was also maintaining a strong performance in its core brands, reporting almost 10% organic growth on a constant-currency basis of brands the company has owned at least one year. WhiteWave has managed to make acquisitions in fast-growing categories and not let it come at the expense of core brands' growth.
Plant-based foods and beverages delivered a solid performance that is on-trend across the industry. Premium dairy was another strong performer this year, thanks in part to beneficial pricing initiatives and increased demand for Horizon products, including milk but also the brand's butter and cheeses. For 2016, Engles told investors that the company would focus on expanding its yogurt portfolio and "(broadening) Horizon's frame of reference with consumers through innovative new products."
The remark about yogurt category expansion is key and could be a clue to a potential acquisition of a minority stake in Chobani. Chobani recently turned down offers from PepsiCo and other companies. However, Chobani would be in line with WhiteWave's acquisition strategy and a good fit for what WhiteWave is looking for in its yogurt portfolio.