Dean Foods Records 16 Percent Income In 2012

Dean Foods Co. announced strong fourth quarter and full year 2012 results. The company reported fourth quarter 2012 diluted earnings per share of $0.20, compared to a fourth quarter 2011 loss per share of $0.05. These financial results reflect both the initial public offering of The WhiteWave Foods Co. in Oct. 2012, which minority interest is now reflected as a non-controlling interest, and the sale in Jan. 2013 of the company's Morningstar business, which is now reflected in discontinued operations. On a pro forma adjusted basis, including the Morningstar business in continuing operations and eliminating the non-controlling interest of The WhiteWave Foods Co. that the company does not own, as well as certain separation costs and certain other adjustments, fourth quarter 2012 adjusted diluted earnings per share were $0.40, a 48 percent increase from the $0.27 adjusted diluted earnings per share in the prior year's fourth quarter, and well above the company's Nov. 2012 guidance for the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter consolidated operating income totaled $83 million, compared to a consolidated operating loss of $50 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Pro forma adjusted fourth quarter consolidated operating income in 2012 totaled $157 million, a 16 percent increase from the $135 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"The fourth quarter marked the successful conclusion of a very strong year," Gregg Tanner, chief executive officer of Dean Foods said in a prepared statement. "At Fresh Dairy Direct, our employees are to be commended for the results they delivered through continued focus on the fundamentals of the business, including volume performance, cost control and effective pricing. In particular, the strong pricing discipline demonstrated by our FDD field organization in the face of a highly inflationary commodity environment resulted in significant outperformance compared to our expectations."

Net income attributable to Dean Foods totaled $37 million for the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to a net loss of $10 million in the prior year fourth quarter. Pro forma adjusted net income for the fourth quarter was $74 million, a 47 percent increase from $51 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Net sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 totaled $3.0 billion, compared to $2.9 billion of net sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, reflecting strong sales growth at WhiteWave and the pass-through of higher commodity costs at Fresh Dairy Direct.

Fresh Dairy Direct

Fourth quarter Fresh Dairy Direct operating income was $106 million, as compared to $107 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Fourth quarter Fresh Dairy Direct pro forma adjusted operating income was $102 million, a 2 percent increase from $99 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"Despite the challenging rise in costs in the back half of the year and fourth quarter in particular, fourth quarter gross profit per gallon was above third quarter and year ago levels," said Tanner. "These results demonstrate the benefits of our focused agenda, and begin to break the old paradigm that we are reliant on favorable commodity prices to perform."

While still down on a year-over-year basis, industry volume performance improved in the fourth quarter from earlier in 2012. On an adjusted basis, as defined by the USDA, which adjusts for the quality and number of days in the period, Fresh Dairy Direct fluid milk volumes declined 0.8 percent on a year-over-year basis. This compares to the balance of the industry that experienced a volume decline of approximately 0.9 percent on a year-over-year basis, based on USDA data and company estimates.

The pass-through of higher year-over-year commodity costs resulted in Fresh Dairy Direct net sales of $2.42 billion, a 1.5 percent increase from $2.39 billion in net sales for the fourth quarter of 2011. The fourth quarter 2012 average Class I Mover, a measure of raw milk costs, was $20.32 per hundred-weight, an increase of 8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, and 23 percent more than the third quarter 2012 level.

Corporate Expense

Fourth quarter 2012 corporate expense totaled $56 million, compared to $48 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. On a pro forma adjusted basis, fourth quarter 2012 corporate costs were $40 million compared to $46 million in the year ago period.

Cash Flow

Net cash provided by continuing operations, which excludes Morningstar, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2012, totaled $384 million, compared to $412 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2011. Free cash flow provided by continuing operations, which is defined as net cash provided by continuing operations less capital expenditures, totaled $156 million for full year 2012, compared to $106 million in 2011. A reconciliation between net cash provided by continuing operations and free cash flow provided by continuing operations is provided in the tables below.

Capital expenditures in 2012, including Morningstar, totaled $254 million, compared to $326 million in 2011. Total debt outstanding, net of cash on hand, decreased by $634 million from year-ago levels. Consolidated total debt at Dec. 31, 2012, net of $79 million cash on hand, was $3.0 billion. For purposes of credit facility compliance, at the Dean Foods level, which includes Morningstar but excludes WhiteWave, total debt at Dec. 31, 2012, net of $25 million cash on hand, was $2.3 billion. The company's funded debt to EBITDA ratio, as defined by its credit agreements, was 3.54 times as of the end of 2012 versus a maximum leverage ratio covenant of 5.50 times.

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