Vermont Pure Holdings has posted its Q4 and year end results for fiscal year 2004 today (10 January).

Sales for the fourth quarter rose by 5% to US$13.7m from US$13.1m in the previous year, while income from continuing operations more than doubled to US$235,000 in the quarter compared to US$103,000 for the corresponding period a year ago.

Net income, which for the fourth quarter of 2003 includes retail operations that the company sold in 2004, increased 22% in the fourth quarter compared to the year earlier.

On a full year basis, sales from continuing operations increased 5% to US$52.5m from US$49.9m in fiscal year 2003. Income from continuing operations dropped, however, to US$491,000 in fiscal year 2004 compared to US$962,000 in the previous year.

Including income from discontinued operations, net income was US$651,000, or US$0.03 per share, compared to US$1,353,000 in fiscal year 2003, or US$0.06 per share.

"Fiscal 2004 was a transition year marked by a major change in our business," said Tim Fallon CEO of Vermont Pure Holdings, Ltd. "By successfully selling our retail PET segment, we are in a position to increase market share organically, service our markets more efficiently, and to continue to acquire smaller independent Home & Office distributors in our core markets.

"Our increase in profitability in the fourth quarter and recent acquisitions have laid the groundwork and momentum for improvement in fiscal 2005."

The company sold its retail division in March, 2004 enabling it to use US$10m in proceeds to pay off US$5m of senior debt and US$5m of 12% coupon subordinated debt.

"In addition to the sale, we accomplished a great deal in fiscal year 2004," Fallon continued. "We made six strategic acquisitions that were immediately accretive by consolidating into our existing operations. We also completed two new distribution centres and bottling facility to enhance our distribution. While these initiatives negatively affected our bottom line in fiscal 2004, fourth quarter results reflect an improving trend as a result of these investments."

The company expects sales of US$57m to US$59m in fiscal year 2005 resulting in EBITDA for the year of US$10.5m to US$11,5m.