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SunOpta Announces First Quarter Results and Increases Revenue Guidance; Reports Record Quarterly Revenues and Earnings

May 05,2004
SunOpta Announces First Quarter Results and Increases Revenue Guidance; Reports Record Quarterly Revenues and Earnings

TORONTO--May 5, 2004--SunOpta Inc. (SunOpta or the Company) (Nasdaq:STKL) (TSX:SOY) today announced results for the three months ended March 31, 2004. All amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars.

The Company achieved record revenues for the three months ended March 31, 2004, realizing its 26th consecutive quarter of record revenue growth compared to the same quarter in the previous year, and the first quarter in the Company's history with revenues in excess of $60 million. Revenues in the quarter increased by 51% to $62,502,000 as compared to $41,411,000 in the first quarter of the prior year. These results were led by a 55% increase in revenues within the Company's vertically integrated natural and organic food operations, driven by a combination of internal growth and the acquisitions completed in 2003.

Net earnings for the first quarter increased by 66% to $1,870,000 or $0.04 per basic common share compared to $1,127,000 (adjusted to U.S. GAAP) or $0.03 per basic common share in the first quarter of 2003. This increase was due to a number of factors including expanded revenues within our Ingredients Group lead by oat fiber products and specialty food ingredients, improved revenues and margins within our distribution businesses and the impact of the 2003 acquisitions. These gains were partially offset by foreign exchange losses incurred in the current year compared to foreign exchange gains in the prior year, and the impact of one time closure costs of $186,000 related to the rationalization of the previously announced St. Thomas and Hamilton facilities.

The Company continues to maintain a strong balance sheet with working capital of $57,619,000 and total assets of $179,059,000. The long term debt to equity ratio for the Company is 0.20 to 1.00 as at March 31, 2004.

The Company previously announced that it expected to achieve revenues of $275,000,000 in 2004, an increase of 38% versus 2003, which was based on a combination of continued internal growth and the impact of the food based acquisitions completed in 2003. Based on current trends and the recently completed acquisitions, the Company is now increasing its revenue guidance to $300,000,000 for 2004.

Jeremy N. Kendall, Chairman and CEO of SunOpta, commented that "We are pleased with our first quarter results, realizing an internal growth rate of 16% in revenues and achieving a gross profit margin of 19.6%, versus 17.2% in 2003. The acquisitions we have completed this year are all profitable and will be accretive to earnings. When combined with continued growth in core businesses we are confident that business performance will continue to improve throughout the year."

SunOpta Inc. is an owner/operator of high-growth ethical businesses, focusing on integrated business models in the natural and organic food markets. For the last five consecutive years, SunOpta was included in Profit magazine's 'Profit 100' list of the 100 fastest growing companies in Canada. The company has three business units: the SunOpta Food Group, which specializes in sourcing, processing and distribution of natural and organic food products integrated from seed through packaged products; the Opta Minerals Group, a producer, distributor, and recycler of environmentally friendly industrial materials; and the StakeTech Steam Explosion Group that engineers and markets clean pulping systems using patented steam explosion technology. Each of these business units has proprietary products and services that give it a solid competitive advantage in its sector.

For further information, please contact:
SunOpta Inc.
Jeremy N. Kendall, Chairman & CEO
Steve Bromley, Executive Vice President & COO
John Dietrich, Vice President & CFO
Susan Wiekenkamp, Information Officer
Tel: 905-455-2528, ext 103
swiekenkamp@sunopta.com
Website: www.sunopta.com

Note: This news release may contain forward-looking information. Actual future results may differ materially. The risks, uncertainties, and other factors that could influence actual results are described in the Company's annual report to shareholders and in SEC filings. The attached consolidated balance sheet and consolidated statement of earnings are unaudited. The information provided here should be considered in conjunction with the other information included within the SEC Form 10Q March 31, 2004 filing.

SunOpta Inc.
Consolidated Balance Sheets
As at March 31, 2004 and December 31, 2003
Unaudited
(expressed in thousands of U.S. dollars)

                                                  2004    2003 Change

Assets                                               $       $     %
Current assets
Cash and cash equivalents                        19,503  21,990   -11%
Accounts receivable - trade                      28,391  26,241     8%
Inventories                                      38,059  34,778     9%
Prepaid expenses and other current assets         3,328   2,524    32%
Income taxes recoverable                          1,686   1,686     0%
Future income taxes                                 667   1,172   -43%
                                                ----------------------

                                                 91,634  88,391     4%

Assets held for sale                              4,993   6,007   -17%
Property, plant and equipment                    47,283  44,761     6%
Goodwill and intangibles, net                    25,838  25,084     3%
Future income taxes                               8,891   9,023    -1%
Other assets                                        420     490   -14%

                                                ----------------------
                                                179,059 173,756     3%
                                                ----------------------

Liabilities
Current liabilities
Bank Indebtedness                                 3,227       -
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities         22,806  24,670    -8%
Customer and other deposits                       2,966   1,778    67%
Current portion of long-term debt                 3,992   3,840     4%
Current portion of long-term payables             1,024     740    38%
                                                ----------------------

                                                 34,015  31,028    10%

Long-term debt                                   20,398  21,196    -4%
Long-term payables                                1,382   1,591   -13%
                                                ----------------------

                                                 55,795  53,815     4%

Shareholders' Equity
Capital stock                                    98,286  96,636     2%
Contributed surplus                               3,384   3,384     0%
Retained earnings                                17,649  15,779    12%
Currency translation adjustment                   3,945   4,142    -5%
                                                ----------------------

                                                123,264 119,941     3%

                                                ----------------------
                                                179,059 173,756     3%
                                                ----------------------


SunOpta Inc.
Consolidated Statements of Earnings
For the three months ended March 31, 2004 and 2003
Unaudited
(expressed in thousands of U.S. dollars, except per share amounts)

                                                2004       2003 Change
                                                   $          $     %

Revenues                                      62,502     41,411    51%

Cost of good sold                             50,231     34,293    46%
                                          ----------------------------

Gross profit                                  12,271      7,118    72%

Warehousing and distribution expenses          1,156        178   549%
Selling, general and administrative
 expenses                                      7,979      5,217    53%
                                          ----------------------------

                                               9,135      5,395    69%

Earnings before the following                  3,136      1,723    82%

Interest expense                                (208)      (491)
Interest and other income (expense)             (115)        37
Foreign exchange gain (loss)                    (141)       341
                                          ----------------------------

                                                (464)      (113)  311%

                                          ----------------------------
Earnings before income taxes                   2,672      1,610    66%

Provision for income taxes                       802        483    66%

                                          ----------------------------
Net earnings for the period                    1,870      1,127    66%
                                          ----------------------------

Net earnings per share for the period

Basic                                           0.04       0.03    33%
                                          ----------------------------
Diluted                                         0.03       0.03     0%
                                          ----------------------------

Weighted Average # of shares (in
 thousands)

Basic                                     52,838,493 42,290,847    25%
                                          ----------------------------
Diluted                                   55,856,723 44,549,911    25%
                                          ----------------------------
    CONTACT: SunOpta Inc.
             Jeremy N. Kendall, Steve Bromley,
             John Dietrich, Susan Wiekenkamp,
             905-455-2528, ext 103
             email: swiekenkamp@sunopta.com

    SOURCE: SunOpta Inc.

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