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Snyder's-Lance Earnings Crumble In 4Q

The merger of Charlotte-based Lance Crackers and pretzel-giant Snyder's of Hanover is off to a bumpy start. The combined companies today reported dismal sales for the 4th quarter, which CEO David Singer attributed to merger-related distractions. He spoke with investors on a conference call this morning. "Although there were significant distractions related to the merger- and specifically within our sales organization - the simple truth is we did not execute well and we failed to deliver the growth we planned," says Singer. "In fact, our sales were below prior year by about three percent on an apples-to-apples basis." The merger between Snyder's and Lance was approved in December 2010. During the last three months of 2010, merger costs and dismal sales led to a combined loss of nearly $20 million. But Singer told investors he's confident the snack company will have strong results once the merger bumps are smoothed out. Snyder's-Lance also announced plans to convert its company-owned delivery routes to a system of independent operators over the next year and a half. No major job losses are expected, since Lance delivery drivers will have the chance to become independent route operators. The transition will save the company from having to maintain its own fleet of delivery trucks.