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Canadian organic food distributor SunOpta Inc. (NASDAQ:STKL) continues to have strong sales trends, but second-half earnings will be weighted to the fourth quarter says RBC analyst Edward Aaron.

The result is that Mr. Aaron has taken down his third-quarter estimate “out of conservatism” to $0.06 a share from $0.08 “to reflect short-term cost pressure” on the company’s ingredients business and, to a less extent, the grains and foods division. (Consensus estimates stand at $0.07). He adds that this is a short-term timing issue. “As such, our fourth-quarter and full 2009 estimates are unchanged” at $0.25, the low end of the company’s guidance.

Mr. Aaron has also reduced the price target on SunOpta to $7 from $8. He assigns $5 of that to the company’s food group, using a multiple of 16 times estimated 2009 earnings. Shares of the company now trade just above $4.

With an outperform rating on the company’s stock, Mr. Aaron says “management is showing prudent discipline with managing the balance sheet,” focusing on receivables and inventory while controlling capex.

Source: RBC Analyst Lowers Estimates of SunOpta to Reflect Short-Term Cost Pressure