Zig-Zag Driving Growth At Turning Point Brands

Turning Point Brands, Inc. (NYSE: TPB) announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022. Turning Point reported that net sales decreased 6.3% to $100.9 million, while net sales for Zig-Zag and Stoker’s Products increased 10.1%. Net income decreased 6.7% to $11.0 million. The adjusted EBITDA dropped 9.8% to $25.3 million and the diluted EPS of $0.55 and Adjusted Diluted EPS of $0.71 as compared to $0.57 and $0.80 in the same period one year ago, respectively.

“Our first quarter results were in-line with our expectations as we continued to grow our market share for both Zig-Zag and Stoker’s while navigating a difficult consumer and regulatory environment to drive profitability in each of our segments, including NewGen. Sales decreased 6 percent from the previous year driven by a 37 percent decline in NewGen sales but showed double-digit growth excluding NewGen,” said Yavor Efremov, President and CEO, Turning Point Brands. “Zig-Zag delivered another strong growth quarter led by our U.S. Papers business which built on its market leading share during the quarter. At the same time, Stoker’s maintained its growth trajectory driven by double-digit growth in the Moist Snuff Tobacco (MST) business which benefited from consumer trade-down as a leading value brand. Despite the expected sales decline, NewGen maintained positive profitability during the quarter while improving the distribution reach for its regulated products.”

Zig-Zag Grows

Turning Point said that the U.S. rolling papers and e-commerce business grew double-digits, aided by approximately $2 million in sales from an inventory load with certain customers. A low-single-digit decline in the cigar wraps business and double-digit decline in the Canadian business partially offset this growth. The decline in the cigar wraps business was partially due to a trade inventory adjustment compared to the prior-year period. Order timing that benefitted the prior year period contributed to the decline in the Canadian business. Wild Hemp sales moved into the Zig-Zag Products segment during the current quarter which contributed $0.2 million, or 0.6 percent to the segment growth. For the first quarter, total Zig-Zag Products segment volume increased 7.1 percent, while price / mix increased 4.3 percent.

For the quarter, the Zig-Zag Products segment gross profit increased 5.8% to $26.3 million. The segment’s gross margin contracted 300 basis points to 57.7 percent driven primarily by growth in lower gross margin products and lower margin contribution from the inclusion of the DVW acquisition in the current period.

“Paper cones and Zig-Zag’s e-commerce business continued to drive the growth within our U.S. papers business,” said Graham Purdy, Chief Operating Officer, Turning Point Brands. “We introduced a new line of Zig-Zag rough cut natural leaf cigars and ramped up Zig-Zag hemp wraps and natural leaf tobacco wraps distribution during the quarter. Meanwhile, our marketing team continues to launch exciting programs to strengthen the Zig-Zag brand including its recent partnership with luxury fashion line AMIRI for its Spring 2022 collection. We are also eager to launch CLIPPER lighters distribution in the second half of the year which has the potential to be a meaningful contributor to the segment’s long-term growth.”

Vape Struggles

For the first quarter, NewGen Products’ net sales decreased 37.1% to $23.5 million. The regulatory environment for the vape businesses continues to impact sales. For the quarter, the NewGen Products segment gross profit decreased 37.7% to $7.8 million. The segment gross margin contracted 40 basis points from the previous year to 33.0 percent.

“Our vape business remained profitable even with the expected weakness during the quarter as it continues to navigate challenges presented by the regulatory environment,” concluded Purdy. “Encouragingly, we continued to ramp our last mile logistics and distribution capabilities through the quarter. We will continue to adapt to the market environment as it goes through another transition period with the FDA expanding regulation of nicotine products. TPB’s applications for our vapor products remain under review.”

Mr. Efremov added, “We continue to monitor FDA developments. While added regulation may cause short-term disruption, this is a necessary step to fully regulate the industry, create a level playing field, and provide consumers with additional reduced-risk alternatives to cigarettes.”

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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