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Hain Celestial Bags a Bummer

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)
September 3, 2003
Life is like a tea bag. It's got its share of ups and downs.

For tea specialist Hain Celestial (Nasdaq: HAIN), this new fiscal year isn't exactly in the bag as it warned that it would miss its fiscal 2004 profit targets.

While the stock started out the year at a five-year low, it nearly doubled in 2003. Like its Terra Chips and Westsoy soy milks, the shares were actually starting to be good for you. Between its flagship Celestial Seasonings line of flavored teas and its various upscale health-food brands, the company has amassed a product portfolio that would stock quite the shelfful at your local Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI) or Wild Oats (Nasdaq: OATS) store.

While the company isn't the iced-tea hotbed that had us pitting Unilever's (NYSE: UL) Lipton against Nestle's (Nasdaq: NSRGY) Nestea in a Dueling Fools segment back in July, Hain was faring well until yesterday's stumble.

Last night's warning came on the heels of closing out fiscal 2003 in decent shape. Unfortunately, the company is only looking to earn between $0.95 and $1.03 a share in this brand-new fiscal year. The range is wide, but not wide enough. Wall Street had its heart set on $1.05 in promised earnings per stub. The stock got skimmed in after-hours trading.

However, the company's fundamentals are still solid. Go by the middle of the company's new target ranges and it's looking to grow earnings by 25% on an 18% uptick in revenue.

For a food manufacturer, that's not shabby by any measure. Somewhere between the Terra and the Celestial, a healthy company lives on.

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