Truett-Hurst gains profit for 4th quarter of 2013

  • Truett-Hurst CEO and co-founder Phil Hurst, partner and winemaker Virgina Lambrix and chief financial officer Jim Bielenberg in 2013. (PD FILE, 2013)

Truett-Hurst posted a profit Thursday for the first time since the Healdsburg wine company went public last year.

Significant growth was seen in all sales channels during the quarter that ended Dec. 31. The introduction of new brands like “Paper Boy,” which was launched in November and comes in an unusual paper bottle, helped drive the growth, the company said.

“Wine quality is better than ever and we received great scores recently from the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker,” CEO Phil Hurst said in a statement. “I'm very proud of our team's work.”

Sales grew 76 percent in the quarter to reach $6.1 million, and wholesale net sales grew 95 percent in the quarter, compared to the same period last year.

Truett-Hurst reported $40,000 in profits for the quarter. The company achieved profits of just $25,000 in 2012, and would have been profitable in recent quarters without one-time fees related to its IPO, Hurst said.

“Growth was seen in every channel in which we operate,” James Bielenberg, the company's chief financial officer, said in a conference call with investors.

Changes in the overall U.S. wine marketplace are helping the company, Hurst said. U.S. consumers bought more than 370 million cases and $35 billion worth of domestic and imported wine in 2013, Hurst said.

The direct-to-consumer market is outpacing the growth of total wine sales in the United States. At Truett-Hurst, profits for direct-to-consumer sales nearly doubled to $658,000 in the second fiscal quarter, up from $377,000 in the same period last year.

Relationships with retailers also are a key part of the company's business.

“We see new stores like Walgreens and Dollar General starting to sell wine,” Hurst said. “In my opinion this will lead to more consumers that may not normally drink wine seeing wine ... and will hopefully help us grow this category.”

Truett-Hurst stock rose 15 percent Thursday, closing at $5.90 a share on the Nasdaq.

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