About one week after Alkaline88® brand ambassador Chez Reavie won the Travelers Championship Tournament at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut, Alkaline88 parent The Alkaline Water Company (NASDAQ and TSXV: WTER) announced a victory of its own. For the fifth consecutive year, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company reported annual revenue growth in excess of 50 percent as its products continue to land in more stores and gain traction with consumers.
Record Fiscal 2019
During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019, WTER recorded sales of approximately $32.2 million, a surge of 62.5% versus sales during fiscal 2018.
In fiscal 2018, revenue rose 55% from the year prior to $19.8 million. In fiscal 2017, sales jumped 80% from fiscal 2016 to $12.8 million. Across the fiscal years 2014 (the first year of sales) through 2016, revenue rose from $552,699 to $3.7 million to $7.1 million, respectively.
From the year ended March 31, 2014 through fiscal 2019, sales of Alkaline88 increased more than 5,700%, or a compound annual growth of 176.3%, with no indication of slowing down. During May, the company reported record monthly sales of $3.8 million.
Growth Key: Widening Footprint
Since inception in 2012, the company has been focused on building a national distribution for Alkaline88, its premium bottled water with a pH of 8.8 heralded for helping consumers maintain a balanced lifestyle. To that point, Alkaline88 is now available in tens of thousands of stores across the country in various sizes and packages from 500 milliliters to 3 liters. Management has not relented on the quest for prominent shelf space, making more inroads during fiscal 2019 while expanding existing ones.
For instance, more Whole Foods stores are now carrying Alkaline88 than ever before. Alkaline88 made its way into Shaw’s, a unit of grocery giant Albertsons, including the product now on shelves in more than 150 locations in the Northeast U.S. ShopRite was added as a new selling point, with ShopRite putting 1-liter and 3-liter Alkaline88 products in over 270 of its stores along the East Coast. Regional player Heinen’s Grocery Stores, which has 23 stores across Ohio and Illinois, were also added to the WTER customer lineup.
In a huge win for the company, sales were initiated in over 1,100 Publix Super Markets, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the U.S.
Importantly, The Alkaline Water Company has been deepening its penetration in convenience stores, a brutally competitive market segment that is part and parcel to sales success. Partnering with E.A. Berg, Crossmark and Premier DSD to emphasize expansion in the c-store space has delivered strong returns quickly, as measured by more than 1,100 independent c-stores being added to the distribution network and a 65% improvement in sales of single-serve sizes of Alkaline88.
Speaking to the c-store developments, Richard A. Wright, President and CEO of The Alkaline Water Company, gave investors something to look forward to, saying in a news release that the company intends to increase this footprint “dramatically over the next 12 months.”
Elsewhere, Peapod.com, a popular (and quickly expanding) online grocer and delivery service, is now offering Alkaline88 for the “Chicagoland” market with the potential to expand into some or all of Peapod’s 15 other markets.
Nurturing the expansive distribution network is meaningful not only for Alkaline88, but other products coming down the company’s pipeline through its new A88 Infused Beverage Division. In reality, there should be a symbiotic effect, where the infused products can help introduce the legacy products in some market segments and vice-versa in others. The first products from the unit, a line of hemp-infused beverages, are being marketed under the “Soothe” moniker and have reportedly received rave reviews at industry trade shows where they have been demonstrated.
Leading up to the commercial launch, the WTER subsidiary entered into a brand development agreement with ArchPoint Group to design the cans and bottles for the new hemp-infused sparkling and still water products.
Pathway to Profitability
Gross profit for the year ended March 31, 2019 was $12.9 million, up 58.8% compared to fiscal 2018. Not surprisingly, WTER lost money during the fiscal year as it spends to build the brand, but the net loss contracted to 27 cents per share for the year from 32 cents per share a year earlier.
This is an important metric to consider because investors want to see revenue growth outstripping increases in operating expenses. That is what puts a company on a pathway to profitability.
With $11 million in cash on hand at the end of March, the company is in a strong cash position to keep its foot on the gas in a bid to run its string of 50+% annual sales growth to six years during fiscal 2020.
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