In a turbulent economic environment, The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (HAIN) reported fourth quarter financial results with a double-digit fall in the bottom-line. Earnings per share (excluding one-time items) for the quarter were 28 cents, well below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 31 cents.

Earnings per share (excluding one-time items) declined 17.6% year over year from 34 cents posted in the prior-year quarter. On a reported basis, Hain delivered EPS of 3 cents, down 81.3%.

Revenue for the quarter fell 5.6% to $262.7 million compared to $278.3 million reported in the prior-year quarter. Fluctuation in foreign exchange rates adversely impacted revenue by $10.7 million.

Despite the economic headwinds, management indicated that its U.S. operations remain strong and have experienced growth across its key categories, which includes tea, dry grocery, infant and toddler care, non-dairy beverages, nut butters and frozen products.

For fiscal year 2010, management expects total revenue to increase between 4% and 6% to a range of $1.01 billion to $1.03 billion, and EPS in the range of $1.19 to $1.28.

The Hain Celestial Group is a leading manufacturer and marketer of natural and organic food, as well as personal care products. The company is a leader in top natural food categories, which includes Celestial Seasonings, Hain Pure Foods, Westbrae Natural, WestSoy, Rice Dream, Soy Dream, Walnut Acres Organic, Ethnic Gourmet, Rosetto, Little Bear Organic Foods.

During the quarter, the company generated free cash flow of $28.1 million, and reduced its debt by $30.2 million. In the fiscal year 2009, the company lowered its debt by $47.2 million. Hain’s balance sheet remains healthy with working capital of $212.6 million, and debt being 36.8% of shareholders’ equity of $701.3 million.
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