Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., reported that sales for its U.S. Beverages segment, which includes V8 juices and juice drinks and Campbell’s tomato juice, were up 6 percent in the fourth quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 3.

Sales for U.S. Beverages reached $184 million in the fourth quarter, bolstered by decreased promotional spending and the benefit of a 53rd week of sales, the company reports. Excluding the additional week, declines in V8 V-Fusion beverages were partly offset by gains in V8 Splash beverages and V8 vegetable juice, it says.

For the full year, U.S. Beverages sales were down 3 percent to $723 million, with volume and mix subtracting 5 percent, decreasing promotional spending adding 1 percent, and the 53rd week of sales adding 2 percent.

In addition, sales for its Bolthouse and Foodservice segment increased 11 percent for the quarter to $334 million, mostly driven by double-digit gains in Bolthouse Farms premium refrigerated beverages and salad dressings.

For the full year, Bolthouse and Foodservice segment sales increased 5 percent to nearly $1.4 billion, supported again by growth in the Bolthouse Farms portfolio.
For the company as a whole, Campbell reported earnings from continuing operations of $137 million, or $0.43 per share, in the quarter, compared with earnings of $117 million, or $0.37 per share, in the prior-year period. Sales from continuing operations increased 7 percent in the term, but organic sales were down 2 percent, the company reports.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in the quarter was $234 million, compared with $178 million in the prior-year quarter. Excluding items impacting comparability in both periods, adjusted EBIT increased 25 percent to $259 million. The increase was primarily due to lower administrative expenses and the benefit of the additional week, partly offset by a lower gross margin percentage, the company says.

“Our fiscal 2014 results were in line with our most recent guidance, including increases in net sales, adjusted EBIT and adjusted [earnings per share],” said Denise Morrison, Campbell’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “We continued to make progress in reshaping Campbell, although we recognize that it is taking longer than originally anticipated. … Bolthouse Farms achieved strong top-line growth as we increased distribution and invested in advertising and consumer programs to build brand equity. … This year, we made several strategic investments, funded in part by reduced overhead costs. We believe that the diversification of our portfolio and responsible cost management will change our growth trajectory over time.

“Looking ahead, we plan to deliver modest growth in fiscal 2015, despite a consumer environment that is likely to remain challenging,” Morrison continued. “As we announced at our July 21 investor day, we expect fiscal 2015 growth to be below our long-term targets for sales and earnings. We intend to make meaningful improvements in our core businesses and drive innovation across the company with the launch of more than 200 new products. … We will execute our turnaround plans to strengthen U.S. beverages and expect to stabilize sales in Australia, where we took further action in the fourth quarter to improve productivity. We are counting on continued growth in Bolthouse Farms, Kelsen Group and Plum, which have added more than $1 billion in sales in faster-growing categories. As always, we will be relentless in managing our costs and margins to improve profit performance. We’re confident that Campbell is on the right path, and we are committed to executing our strategy to deliver sustainable, profitable net sales growth.”