George Weston Limited Reports 2020 Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020 Results(2)

George Weston Limited Reports 2020 Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020 Results(2)
MacEwen

TORONTOMarch 2, 2021 /CNW/ - George Weston Limited (TSX: WN) ("GWL" or the "Company") today announced its consolidated unaudited results for the 13 weeks ended December 31, 2020.

GWL's 2020 Annual Report includes the Company's audited annual consolidated financial statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A") for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020. The 2020 Annual Report has been filed on SEDAR and is available at sedar.com and in the Investor Centre section of the Company's website at weston.ca.

As a result of the Company's reporting calendar, the fourth quarter and full year 2020 include an extra week of operations ("the 53rd week") compared to 2019.

"George Weston performed well during the fourth quarter," said Galen G. Weston, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, George Weston Limited. "Our businesses showed resilience in the face of challenging circumstances as they delivered improved results across the board. Looking forward, as COVID-19 impacts continue to add short-term uncertainty, we remain confident in the long-term value creation opportunities for each of them."

Loblaw Companies Limited ("Loblaw") delivered positive results with strong same-store and e-commerce sales growth in a quarter heavily impacted by COVID-19. Costs remained elevated to ensure the safety and security of customers and colleagues. Loblaw continued to deliver value in categories that mean the most to its customers and focused on accelerating its three strategic growth areas of Everyday Digital Retail, Payments and Rewards, and Connected Healthcare Network.

Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust ("Choice Properties") generated solid results in the fourth quarter, reflecting stable earnings as it collected 98% of contractual rents. This strong performance was underpinned by improvements to the overall quality of the portfolio through effective capital recycling. In the fourth quarter, Choice Properties completed approximately $550 million of transactions, including four acquisitions and five dispositions, and remained disciplined in its capital spending on development initiatives. Choice Properties remains confident that this deliberate approach to financial and asset management will enable it to continue to manage the risks and uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and position it for long-term growth.

Weston Foods' sales and earnings improved in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter despite the negative impact of COVID-19. The reintroduction of government-mandated closures of non-essential businesses, stay-at-home orders and mandatory social distancing restrictions in several regions led to lower volumes, with the negative impact being more significant in the second half of the quarter. These pressures were offset in part by the on-going cost savings and productivity improvements and the benefits realized from Weston Foods' transformation program, as well as better sales performance in certain retail categories and foodservice channels. As a result, Weston Foods remains well-positioned to achieve long-term growth through its strategic framework while delivering superior products and services to its customers and consumers.

2020 FOURTH QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS

Net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company were $289 million ($1.88 per common share), a decrease of $144 million ($0.93 per common share) compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The decrease was due to the unfavourable year-over-year net impact of adjusting items totaling $194 million ($1.27 per common share), which was primarily due to the unfavourable year-over-year impact of the fair value adjustment of the Trust Unit liability of $223 million ($1.44 per common share) as a result of the increase of Choice Properties' unit price in the fourth quarter of 2020, partially offset by an improvement of $50 million ($0.34 per common share) in the Company's consolidated underlying operating performance.

Adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company(1) in the fourth quarter of 2020 were $312 million ($2.03 per common share), an increase of $50 million ($0.34 per common share), or 19.1%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The increase was mainly due to the improvement in the underlying operating performance of the Company's operating segments.

CONSOLIDATED RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Unless otherwise indicated, the Company's results include an extra week of operations (the "53rd week") in the fourth quarter and full year 2020 results when compared to 2019 as a result of the Company's reporting calendar.

The Company's results reflect the impact of COVID-19 and the year-over-year impact of the fair value adjustment of the Trust Unit liability as a result of the significant changes in Choice Properties' unit price, recorded in net interest expense and other financing charges. The Company's results are impacted by market price fluctuations of Choice Properties' Trust Units on the basis that the Trust Units held by unitholders, other than the Company, are redeemable for cash at the option of the holder and are presented as a liability on the Company's consolidated balance sheet. The Company's financial results are negatively impacted when the Trust Unit price rises and positively impacted when the Trust Unit price declines.

(unaudited)

 

Quarters Ended

     

 Years Ended

   
                         

($ millions except where otherwise 
   indicated)

 

Dec. 31, 2020

 

Dec. 31, 2019

     

Dec. 31, 2020

 

Dec. 31, 2019

   

For the periods ended as indicated

 

(13 weeks)

 

(12 weeks)

$ Change

% Change

 

(53 weeks)

 

(52 weeks)

$ Change

% Change

Revenue

 

$

13,806

 

$

12,107

$

1,699

14.0%

 

$

54,705

 

$

50,109

$

4,596

9.2%

Operating income

 

$

906

 

$

718

$

188

26.2%

 

$

2,888

 

$

2,958

$

(70)

(2.4)%

Adjusted EBITDA(1)

 

$

1,501

 

$

1,351

$

150

11.1%

 

$

5,607

 

$

5,483

$

124

2.3%

Adjusted EBITDA margin(1)

   

10.9%

   

11.2%

       

10.2%

   

10.9%

     

Net earnings attributable to
   shareholders
   of the Company

 

$

299

 

$

443

$

(144)

(32.5)%

 

$

963

 

$

242

$

721

297.9%

Net earnings available to
   common shareholders
   of the Company

 

$

289

 

$

433

$

(144)

(33.3)%

 

$

919

 

$

198

$

721

364.1%

Adjusted net earnings
  available to common
  shareholders 
  of the Company(1)

 

$

312

 

$

262

$

50

19.1%

 

$

1,055

 

$

1,117

$

(62)

(5.6)%

Diluted net earnings per
   common share ($)

 

$

1.88

 

$

2.81

$

(0.93)

(33.1)%

 

$

5.96

 

$

1.26

$

4.70

373.0%

Adjusted diluted net
   earnings per 
   common share(1) ($)

 

$

2.03

 

$

1.69

$

0.34

20.1%

 

$

6.85

 

$

7.24

$

(0.39)

(5.4)%

                                     

The following table provides the approximate impact of the 53rd week on the consolidated results of the Company in the fourth quarter of 2020:

         
 

53rd week
2020

 

($ millions except where otherwise indicated)

Loblaw

Weston
 Foods

Other and
Intersegment

Total

Revenue

$

878

$

29

$

(10)

$

897

Adjusted EBITDA(1)

$

67

$

4

$

 

$

71

Adjusted EBITDA margin(1)

7.6%

 

13.8%

     

Depreciation and amortization

$

$

$

 

$

Operating income

$

67

$

4

$

 

$

71

Net earnings available to common shareholders of
  the Company

$

18

$

3

$

 

$

21

Diluted net earnings per common share ($)

$

0.12

$

0.02

$

 

$

0.14

                 

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Company recorded net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company of $289 million ($1.88 per common share), a decrease of $144 million ($0.93 per common share) compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The decrease was due to the unfavourable year-over-year net impact of adjusting items totaling $194 million ($1.27 per common share), partially offset by an improvement of $50 million ($0.34 per common share) in the Company's consolidated underlying operating performance, as set out below:

  • The unfavourable year-over-year net impact of adjusting items totaling $194 million ($1.27 per common share) was due to:
    • the unfavourable year-over-year impact of the fair value adjustment of the Trust Unit liability of $223 million ($1.44 per common share) as a result of the increase in Choice Properties' unit price in the fourth quarter of 2020; and
    • the unfavourable year-over-year impact of asset impairments, net of recoveries of $9 million ($0.08 per common share);

      partially offset by,

    • the favourable year-over-year impact of the fair value adjustment on investment properties of $38 million ($0.25 per common share).
  • The improvement in the Company's consolidated underlying operating performance of $50 million ($0.34 per common share) was due to:
    • the favourable underlying operating performance of Loblaw including the impact of COVID-19 and related costs;
    • the favourable underlying operating performance of Weston Foods including the impact of COVID-19 and related costs; and
    • the decrease in the adjusted effective tax rate(1) mainly due to the favourable impact of the non-taxable portion of the gain from the Choice Properties' transactions completed in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the year-over-year impact of certain non-deductible tax items;

      partially offset by,

    • an increase in adjusted net interest expense and other financing charges(1); and
    • an increase in depreciation and amortization.

Adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company(1) in the fourth quarter of 2020 were $312 million ($2.03 per common share), an increase of $50 million ($0.34 per common share), or 19.1%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 due to the improvement in the Company's consolidated underlying operating performance described above. Excluding the impact of the 53rd week of $21 million ($0.14 per common share), adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company(1) increased by $29 million ($0.20 per common share), or 11.1%, compared to the same period in 2019.

CONSOLIDATED OTHER BUSINESS MATTERS

COVID-19 RELATED COSTS   In 2020, the Company incurred significant COVID-19 costs related to temporary pay premiums, pay protection safeguards, additional security, customer convenience and increased health and safety measures, totaling approximately $490 million. The Company incurred COVID-19 related costs of approximately $50 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 primarily related to safety and security measures to protect colleagues, customers, tenants and other stakeholders. The estimated COVID-19 related costs incurred by each of the Company's reportable operating segments were as follows:

 

Quarter Ended

 

Year Ended

       

(unaudited)

Dec. 31, 2020

 

Dec. 31, 2020

($ millions)

(13 weeks)

 

(53 weeks)

Loblaw

$

45

 

$

445

Choice Properties(i)

 

3

 

21

Weston Foods

 

2

 

24

Consolidated

$

50

 

$

490

           
           

(i)

Choice Properties recorded a provision of $3 million and $21 million in the fourth quarter and year-to-date of 2020, respectively, for certain past due amounts, reflecting increased collectability risk and potential abatements.

CONSOLIDATION IMPACTS OF CHOICE PROPERTIES' TRANSACTIONS  Choice Properties completed various property acquisitions and dispositions in 2019 and 2020, improving the strength of its portfolio. As a result of certain of these transactions, the Company recorded the consolidation impact in Other and Intersegment.

               
 

Quarters Ended

 

Years Ended

               

(unaudited)

Dec. 31, 2020

 

Dec. 31, 2019

 

Dec. 31, 2020

 

Dec. 31, 2019

($ millions)

(13 weeks)

(12 weeks)

 

(53 weeks)

 

(52 weeks)

Choice Properties' transactions

$

11

 

$

7

 

$

31

 

$

7

Net interest expense and other financing charges

$

11

 

$

7

 

$

31

 

$

7

                       

CHOICE PROPERTIES' TRANSACTIONS  In 2020, Choice Properties disposed or partially disposed of 17 properties (2019 – 31 properties) to third parties for aggregate consideration of $233 million (2019 – $435 million). On consolidation, these transactions were not recognized as a sale of assets as under the terms of the leases, the Company did not relinquish control of the properties for purposes of IFRS 16 "Leases" and IFRS 15 "Revenue from Contracts with Customers". The proceeds from the transactions were recognized as financial liabilities totaling $233 million (2019 – $435 million) on the Company's consolidated balance sheets. As at December 31, 2020, the Company recognized $666 million (2019 – $435 million) in financial liabilities. The corresponding interest expense of $11 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 (2019 – $7 million) and $31 million year-to-date (2019 – $7 million) was recorded in the consolidated statements of earnings. 

For tax purposes, these transactions were treated as a sale, and the income tax expense reflects the benefit from the non-taxable portion of the gain from the sale of properties by Choice Properties.

REPORTABLE OPERATING SEGMENTS

The Company operates through its three reportable operating segments, Loblaw, Choice Properties and Weston Foods. Other and Intersegment includes eliminations, intersegment adjustments related to the consolidation and cash and short-term investments held by the Company. All other company level activities that are not allocated to the reportable operating segments, such as interest expense, corporate activities and administrative costs are included in Other and Intersegment.

Loblaw has two reportable operating segments, retail and financial services. Loblaw's retail segment consists primarily of food retail and drug retail. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise and financial services.

Choice Properties owns, manages and develops a high-quality portfolio of commercial retail, industrial, office and residential properties across Canada.

Weston Foods is a North American bakery making bread, rolls, cupcakes, donuts, cookies, cakes, pies, cones and wafers, artisan baked goods and more.

The Company's results in 2020 include an extra week of operation, the 53rd week, as described in the "Consolidated Results of Operations" section of this News Release.

Loblaw Operating Results

<td
 

Quarters Ended

     

Years Ended

     

(unaudited)

                   

($ millions except where
   
otherwise indicated)

Dec. 31, 2020

Dec. 31, 2019

     

Dec. 31, 2020

Dec. 31, 2019

     

For the periods ended as indicated

(13 weeks)

(12 weeks)

$ Change

% Change

(53 weeks)

(52 weeks)

$ Change

% Change

Revenue

$

13,286

$

11,590

$

1,696

14.6%

$

52,714

$

48,037

$

4,677

9.7%

Operating income

$

700

$

539

$

161

29.9%

$

2,357

$

2,262

$

95

4.2%

Adjusted EBITDA(1)

$

1,330

$

1,203

$

127

10.6%

$

5,033

$

4,904

$

129

2.6%

Adjusted EBITDA margin(1)

10.0%

10.4%

   

9.6%

10.2%