Scotts Miracle-Gro Predicts 2% Decline in 2011 Sales

Scotts Miracle-Gro (NYSE:SMG) trimmed its outlook on Monday for the third time in four months as it continued to face dampened consumer demand in the critical fall season due to the onslaught of Hurricane Irene and other inclement weather.

The maker of consumer lawn and garden products expects to report on Nov. 8 a 2% decline in sales for fiscal 2011, which will likely result in adjusted net earnings in a range of $2.70 to $2.75 a share.

Scotts Miracle has been forced to narrow its forecast several times this year due to harsh weather that has stifled demand for its outdoor lawn-care products. The company had forecast in August sales between $2.95 and $3.05 a share, however it said weather has continued to weaken demand during fall, which is one of its most popular lawn-care seasons.

"The impact of Hurricane Irene and other inclement weather in September all but eliminated lawn and garden activity in key markets during a critical period of our fall season,” the company’s chief executive, Jim Hagedorn, said in a statement.

Scotts Miracle, based in Marysville, Ohio, said strong demand during periods when the weather was nicer helped to offset declines during inclement weather, leading to flat consumer sales year-to-date compared with the same period in 2010. However, the company warned the challenges were “just too much to overcome in a single season.”

Shares of the lawn-care company were down more than 5% to about $44.59 in late morning trade, recouping from even greater losses earlier in the session that sent its stock as low as $42.06.