Imperial Sugar returns to profit in 2010

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Stevia Sugar Generally accepted accounting principles

Imperial Sugar Company returned to profit during fiscal 2010 as its Port Wentworth refinery continued to boost production following a 2008 explosion, although its losses widened in Q4, the company said.

Imperial Sugar reported net income of $136.86m for the 2010 full fiscal year ended September 30, compared to a net loss of $23.18m in 2009. The fourth quarter saw net income dip to $2.3m from $0.2m for the prior year period, as a result of higher raw sugar prices, which more than offset higher refined prices, the company said.

President and CEO John Sheptor said: “As production rates at the Port Wentworth refinery increased during the year, we identified facility and process modifications necessary to return the refinery to historical operating levels. We completed the last major modification in October 2010, and output improved significantly. While production days and fixed costs had a negative impact on fiscal 2010 results, the improvements that we have made should lead to sustained results at higher rates in 2011."

Imperial Sugar saw a 74 percent increase in net sales from $522.6m to $908m during the year, which it said was partly due to the increase in production at its Port Wentworth refinery, as well as increased refined sugar prices.

Thirteen people were killed and nearly 50 were injured in a dust explosion at the Port Wentworth sugar refinery in Georgia in February 2008. The facility produced about nine percent of the United States’ refined sugar supply for the full fiscal year prior to the disaster.

Stevia/sucrose joint venture

Imperial Sugar also formed a joint venture called Natural Sweet Ventures with stevia firm PureCircle in February 2010, which it said was consistent with its strategy to expand its range of value-added natural sweetener offerings.

Sheptor said: “Our Natural Sweet Ventures initiative provides an exciting opportunity to expand our portfolio of all natural sweeteners. Customer interest in our stevia/sucrose products under the Steviacane brand name has been encouraging.”

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