George Weston posts $1M loss in Q4

George Weston Ltd. posts Q4 loss of $1M, announces plans to sell salmon business.

George Weston Ltd. on Monday reported a $1 million fourth-quarter loss and said it has put its Heritage Salmon subsidiary up for sale.

Weston, which owns 63 per cent of grocery chain Loblaws, said it lost 6 cents a share in the quarter, compared with a profit of $252 million ($1.86 a share) a year earlier.

The company said it took charges amounting to $1.86 a share in the most recent quarter related to the sale of its fisheries business, the cost of restructuring its bakery division and other accounting changes.

Weston's profit from continuing operations in the quarter was $154 million ($1.14 a share), down from $258 million ($1.91 a share) a year earlier. "George Weston Limited continued to compete successfully in very challenging markets during the fourth quarter of 2004," the company said in a release.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson One Analytics had been looking for earnings of $1.86 per diluted shares.

Weston's Heritage Salmon business has aquaculture operations in New Brunswick, Maine and British Columbia.

"We will be working closely with Weston to make the transition to new ownership as smooth as possible for everyone involved – including our employees, our customers and our suppliers," said Heritage Salmon president Fraser Walsh said.

"In the meantime, it is business as usual," he added.

Shares of George Weston slipped 64 cents on Monday, closing at $114.25 on the TSX.