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Green Mountain Coffee: Revenues up, net income down

Green Mountain Coffee: Revenues up, net income down

first_imgGoodwill Intangibles, net Net sales $14,384 Other income (expense) Selling and operating expenses 26, 2009 (1,382)Income before income taxes Loss on disposal of fixed assets 5,055 $196,980 Cost of sales (25)Excess tax benefits from equity-based compensation plans 143,630 12,473 ended December 53,350 71,907 415,220 298 Basic income per share: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., (NASDAQ: GMCR) today announced its fiscal 2010 first quarter results for the thirteen weeks ended December 26, 2009, reporting strong growth. Net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 were up 77 percent to $349.4 million as compared to $197.0 million reported in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Other long-term assets Patent litigation settlement Net income (15,757)Inventories Cash and cash equivalents at end of period (40,906) 11,442 606,454 1,124 132,636 Source: WATERBURY, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. 1.28.2010 $883,493 and not disbursed at the end of each period: 50,000 Current assets: General and administrative expenses (43)Interest expense 10,151 December 26, (3,451)Accrued expenses $0.37 $813,839 Weighted average shares outstanding Accounts payable Fixed assets, net Long-term debt – weeks ended 9,429 20,122 $0.27 Accrued compensation costs 23 9,983 September 26, (1,160)Other long-term assets, net – 1,671 $417 3,835 GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE ROASTERS, INC.Unaudited Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows(Dollars in thousands) (1,870)ESOP unallocated shares, at cost 12,687 sharesat December 26, 2009, and September 26, 2009 $73,192 (2,874)Deferred income taxes – $14,384 (10,107) 23,172 (1,574) 23,533 Fixed asset purchases included in accounts payable Current liabilities: Receivables, less allowances of $9,740 and $4,792 at December 26, 2009, and September 26, 2009, respectively Other current assets Net change in revolving line of credit 151,940 2,143 384 10 $12,494 $883,493 Tax benefit (expense) from exercise of non-qualified options and disqualified dispositions of incentive stock options Liabilities and Stockholders’ Equity 2009 38 84,316 Thirteen 6,235 145 Commitments and contingencies 76,961 169,429 Restricted cash and cash equivalents – 211 140,899 Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents (74) 55,579 $813,839 $- 250 50,000 804 Amortization of intangibles (9,421) $5,064 – Other current assets 247,538 590,174 Accrued expenses Thirteen weeks 18,570 (2,576)Deferred compensation and stock compensation 13,137 ended December – 4,662 36,181 27, 2008 6,706 124,053 21,915 $2,475 Deferred income taxes, net 34 53,192 2009 December 26, Stockholders’ equity:center_img Provision for doubtful accounts Thirteen weeks – 4,360 2,844 Gross profit 73,013 454,078 450,596 Retained earnings Cash and cash equivalents (28,758) Net cash provided by operating activities 91,559 Receivables Income tax receivable 26,599 (111) 5 Total current liabilities Income tax expense Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash 17 $0.39 137,162 241,811 4,158 Short-term investments (4,923) Depreciation and amortization Net cash provided by (used for) financing activities 3,257 Current portion of long-term debt Common stock, $0.10 par value: Authorized – 60,000,000 shares; Issued 43,679,665 and 43,603,684 shares at December 26, 2009, and September 26, 2009, respectively (1,048) (74)Total stockholders’ equity Debt assumed in conjunction with acquisition of certain assets of Timothy s Coffee of the World Inc. 101,825 537,801 280 Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity 1,203 (9,149)Net income $241,811 $12,494 5,853 38,628,155 $1,532 Loss on futures derivatives December 27, 36,478 9,211 17,264 2,874 (1,124) 2008Cash flows from operating activities: weeks ended Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period Weighted average shares outstanding Capital expenditures for fixed assets Changes in assets and liabilities: Net income 24,958 Other short-term liabilities (154,742) Cash flows from financing activities: 1,876 Total current assets 34,105 3,979 Acquisition of certain assets of Timothy s Coffee of the World Inc. $5,030 Preferred stock, $0.10 par value: Authorized – 1,000,000 shares; No shares issued or outstanding Thirteen Income tax payable Total assets Accrued compensation costs Inventories $8,350 13,037 36,679,358 Net cash used for investing activities (23,701) 40,536 Income tax payable (receivable) Net income (382)Accounts payable 43,656,431 149,656 (10,083) (10,124)Proceeds from disposal of fixed assets 157,318 Accumulated other comprehensive loss 137,294 (178,298) (1,250) 18,472 2,971 2009Assets (33,500)Proceeds from issuance of common stock GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE ROASTERS, INC.Unaudited Consolidated Balance Sheets(Dollars in thousands) Cash flows from investing activities: Excess tax benefits from equity-based compensation plans $0.29 (17,000)Operating income GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and non-GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 totaled $12.5 million or $0.27 per fully diluted share. This compares to GAAP net income of $14.4 million or $0.37 per fully diluted share in the first quarter of fiscal 2009 including the favorable impact of a pre-tax $17 million or $0.27 per fully diluted share patent litigation settlement. Excluding the favorable impact of the patent settlement in 2009, the first quarter of fiscal 2010 GAAP and non-GAAP fully diluted earnings per share of $0.27 represents a 163% increase over non-GAAP fully diluted earnings per share of $0.10 per share in fiscal 2009.In the first quarter of fiscal 2010, the Company incurred approximately $5.0 million of transaction expenses related to the Timothy s Coffees of the World, Inc. ( Timothy s ) acquisition, which was completed on November 13, 2009, and the pending Diedrich Coffee, Inc. ( Diedrich ) acquisition. Under the new Financial Accounting Standards Board pronouncement on business combinations, effective starting in fiscal 2010 for the Company, acquisition-related transaction expenses are required to be expensed rather than capitalized. In addition, with respect to the Timothy s acquisition which closed on November 13, 2009, a portion of these transaction expenses were treated for tax purposes as part of the cost of acquisition and were, therefore, not tax deductible. This resulted in a higher first quarter of fiscal 2010 effective tax rate of 43.0% – higher than the Company s overall fiscal 2010 effective tax rate of approximately 39.7%.During fiscal 2010 s first quarter, 650 million K-Cup® portion packs were shipped system-wide by all Keurig licensed roasters, up 82% over the year-ago quarter. Supporting continued growth in K-Cup demand, there were 1,466,000 Keurig brewers shipped during the first quarter of fiscal 2010 compared to 711,000 shipped during the first quarter of fiscal 2009.Lawrence J. Blanford, President and CEO, said, Building on our excellent fiscal 2009 performance, it is exciting to be off to an outstanding start for fiscal 2010. Our Company continues to deliver superb financial results that demonstrate the resiliency and transformative nature of our unique business model. The Keurig Single-Cup Brewing System and our growing family of brands and K-Cup portion pack products are changing the way consumers in North America prepare and enjoy their coffee and other beverages. Due to our strong first quarter financial results, we are raising our expectations for fiscal 2010 EPS from prior estimates of $1.85 to $1.95 per fully diluted share to a range of $1.95 to $2.05 per fully diluted share excluding any one-time acquisition-related transaction expenses for the pending Diedrich acquisition above the amount incurred in the first quarter of fiscal 2010.Blanford continued, Our Company s success relies on our employees thoughtful execution of initiatives that enable sustainable growth. Recent initiatives include the acquisition of the Timothy s wholesale business and brand headquartered in Toronto in November 2009; the start-up of new higher speed packaging lines in Tennessee and Vermont; the addition of roasting and new packaging lines in our Sumner, Washington facility; and the roll-out of our Donut House Collection ¢ of coffees in K-Cup portion packs.Blanford concluded, Looking forward, we are committed to continuing to represent the best of business in terms of our growth and profitability and our ability to make a positive difference in the world.Fiscal 2010 First Quarter Financial ReviewNet SalesThe two primary drivers of the 77%, or $152.4 million, increase in the Company s net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 were the 101%, or $86.0 million, increase in total K-Cup net sales and the 86.5%, or $56.7 million, increase in Keurig brewer and accessories sales. Approximately 87% of consolidated sales this past quarter were from the Keurig Brewing System and its recurring K-Cup portion pack revenue.For the Keurig business unit, net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2010, after the elimination of inter-company sales, were $217.8 million, up 106% from net sales of $105.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. The Keurig segment net sales increase over the prior year quarter was due to strong At Home brewer and accessories sales plus a 158% increase in K-Cup sales to retailers and to consumers from Keurig.com. Additionally, royalty income from the sale of K-Cups from third party licensed roasters increased $2 million over the prior year quarter and totaled $11.0 million.For the Specialty Coffee business unit ( SCBU ) net sales for the first fiscal 2010 grew 44% to $131.6 million, after the elimination of inter-company sales, as compared to $91.3 million reported in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Dollar net sales growth was strongest in channels that benefit from sales of K-Cup portion packs including supermarkets, consumer direct and away from home coffee channels. Net sales related to the Timothy s brand, which are included in the Company s results for the first time, represented approximately 8 percentage points of the 44% increase in SCBU s net sales, and 4 percentage points of the 77% increase in GMCR s total company sales. Fair Trade Certified ¢ coffees represented approximately 30% percent of coffee pounds shipped this quarter.Costs, Margins and IncomeGross profit increased to 29.1% of total net sales compared to 27.1% for the corresponding quarter last year. This improved gross profit margin was due to improved SCBU gross margin driven by manufacturing efficiencies combined with the higher manufacturing gross margin due to the increase in volume of SCBU manufactured K-Cups as a percentage of total system volume. Slightly offsetting this gross profit margin improvement was the significant increase in sales of Keurig At Home Single-Cup brewers, which were sold at approximately cost, as part of the Company s strategy to drive demand for its K-Cup portion packs by increasing the installed base of Keurig brewers.Selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) improved as a percentage of net sales to 22.5% from 23.0% in the prior year. This improvement was primarily the result of leveraging selling and organizational resources on a higher sales base. General and administrative expenses included the $5.0 million acquisition-related expenses mentioned above as well as the amortization of identifiable intangibles of $2.1 million due to the Company s acquisitions.Excluding the impact of the pre-tax $17 million patent litigation settlement recorded in the first quarter of fiscal 2009, the Company increased its operating income by 190% to $23.1 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2010, as compared to $8.0 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Operating margins significantly improved as a percentage of net sales to 6.6% from 4.0% in the prior year period.Interest expense was $1.0 million and $1.4 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2009, respectively.Income before taxes for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 increased 236% to $21.9 million as compared to $6.5 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2009 excluding the pre-tax $17 million patent litigation settlement.The Company s tax rate was 43.0% as compared to 38.9% in the prior year quarter. The increase was due to a portion of the acquisition-related expenses not being deductible for tax purposes.GAAP and non-GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 was $12.5 million as compared to GAAP net income of $14.4 million and non-GAAP net income of $4.0 million in the corresponding quarter last year. Note that first quarter fiscal 2009 GAAP results included the favorable impact of a pre-tax $17 million patent litigation settlement.The Timothy s acquisition was slightly accretive to the first quarter of fiscal 2010 earnings per share excluding the one-time acquisition-related expenses.Balance Sheet HighlightsCash and short-term cash investments were $123.6 million at December 26, 2009, down from $292.1 million at September 26, 2009, primarily due to the cash acquisition of Timothy s for approximately $157 million, in U.S. dollars, subject to adjustment.Accounts receivable increased 100% year-over-year to $140.9 million at December 26, 2009, from $70.3 million at December 27, 2008, as a result of continuing strong sales during the first quarter of fiscal 2010 and due to acquiring Timothy s business in November 2009.Inventories decreased as planned to $124.1 million at December 26, 2009, from $137.3 million at September 26, 2009, reflecting strong holiday sales of At Home Single-Cup Keurig brewers and K-Cups. Inventories increased 86% year-over-year from $66.8 million at December 27, 2008, as part of the Company s effort to ensure sufficient inventories of brewers and K-Cups for the second quarter of fiscal 2010 to meet consumer demand.Business Outlook and Other Forward-Looking InformationRevised Certain Company Estimates for Fiscal Year 2010:Total consolidated net sales growth of 57% to 62%, up from prior estimates of 55% to 60%.Total K-Cup portion packs shipped system-wide by all Keurig licensed roasters to increase in the range of 73% to 78%, up from prior estimates of 68% to 73%.An operating margin in the range of 11.8% to 12.5% excluding any one-time acquisition-related transaction expenses for the pending Diedrich acquisition above the amount incurred in the first quarter of fiscal 2010, up from prior estimates of 11.5% to 12.0%.Interest expense of $4.0 million to $5.0 millionA tax rate of 40.1% as compared to 38.2% in fiscal 2009 excluding the tax impact of any one-time acquisition-related transaction expenses for the pending Diedrich acquisition above the amount incurred in the first quarter of fiscal 2010.Fully diluted GAAP earnings per share in the range of $1.95 to $2.05 per share, up from prior estimates of $1.85 to $1.95 per share. The fully diluted GAAP earnings per share estimates include $11 million pre-tax or $0.15 per diluted share non-cash amortization expenses related to the identifiable intangibles of the Company s acquisitions and exclude any one-time acquisition-related transaction expenses for the pending Diedrich acquisition above the amount incurred in the first quarter of fiscal 2010.Company Estimates Relating to Balance Sheet and Cash Flow for Fiscal Year 2010:Capital expenditures for fiscal 2010 in the range of $95 to $115 million.Depreciation and amortization expenses in the range of $44 to $48 million including $11 million for amortization of identifiable intangibles.First Issue of Company Estimates for Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2010:Total consolidated net sales growth of 64% to 69%.An operating margin in the range of 14.0% to 14.7% excluding any one-time acquisition-related transaction expenses for the pending Diedrich acquisition above the amount incurred in the first quarter of fiscal 2010.Fully diluted GAAP earnings per share in the range of $0.56 to $0.61 per share. The fully diluted GAAP earnings per share estimates include $2.3 million pre-tax or $0.03 per diluted share non-cash amortization expenses related to the identifiable intangibles of the Company s acquisitions and exclude any one-time acquisition-related transaction expenses for the pending Diedrich acquisition above the amount incurred in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. This compares to the prior year fully diluted GAAP earnings per share of $0.33 per share.Use of Non-GAAP Financial MeasuresIn addition to reporting financial results in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the Company provides non-GAAP operating results that exclude certain charges or credits and non-cash related items such as amortization of identifiable intangibles related to the Keurig acquisition completed on June 15, 2006, the acquisition of Tully s wholesale business and brands completed on March 27, 2009, the one-time operating income related to the settlement of the Company s Kraft litigation, and the acquisition of Timothy s completed on November 13, 2009. These amounts are not in accordance with, or an alternative to, GAAP. The Company s management believes that these measures provide investors with greater transparency by helping illustrate the underlying financial and business trends relating to the Company s results of operations and financial condition and comparability between current and prior periods. Management uses the measures to establish and monitor budgets and operational goals and to evaluate the performance of the Company.Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. will be discussing these financial results and future prospects with analysts and investors in a conference call available via the Internet. The call will take place today at 5:00 PM ET and will be available, with accompanying slides, via live webcast on the Company s website at www.GMCR.com(link is external). The Company archives the latest conference call on the Investor Relations section of its website for a period of time. A replay of the conference call also will be available by telephone at 719-457-0820, Passcode 2020624 from 9:00 PM ET on January 27th through 9:00 PM ET on Monday, February 1, 2010.GMCR routinely posts information that may be of importance to investors in the Investor Relations section of its website, including news releases and its complete financial statements, as filed with the SEC. The Company encourages investors to consult this section of its website regularly for important information and news. Additionally, by subscribing to the Company s automatic email news release delivery, individuals can receive news directly from GMCR as it is released.About Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.As a leader in the specialty coffee industry, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. is recognized for its award-winning coffees, innovative brewing technology, and socially responsible business practices. GMCR s operations are managed through two business units. The Specialty Coffee business unit produces coffee, tea and hot cocoa from its family of brands, including Tully s Coffee®, Green Mountain Coffee®, Newman s Own® Organics coffee and Timothy s World Coffee®. The Keurig business unit is a pioneer and leading manufacturer of gourmet single-cup brewing systems. K-Cup® portion packs for Keurig® Single-Cup Brewers are produced by a variety of licensed roasters, including Green Mountain Coffee, Tully s Coffee and Timothy s. GMCR supports local and global communities by offsetting 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions, investing in Fair Trade Certified ¢ coffee, and donating at least five percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects. Visit www.gmcr.com(link is external) for more information.Forward-Looking StatementsCertain statements contained herein are not based on historical fact and are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the applicable securities laws and regulations. Generally, these statements can be identified by the use of words such as anticipate, believe, could, estimate, expect, feel, forecast, intend, may, plan, potential, project, should, would, and similar expressions intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. Owing to the uncertainties inherent in forward-looking statements, actual results could differ materially from those stated here. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the impact on sales and profitability of consumer sentiment in this difficult economic environment, the Company s success in efficiently expanding operations and capacity to meet growth, the Company s success in efficiently and effectively integrating Tully s and Timothy s wholesale operations and capacity into its Specialty Coffee business unit, the Company s success in introducing new product offerings, the ability of lenders to honor their commitments under the Company s credit facility, competition and other business conditions in the coffee industry and food industry in general, fluctuations in availability and cost of high-quality green coffee, any other increases in costs including fuel, Keurig s ability to continue to grow and build profits with its roaster partners in the At Home and Away from Home businesses, the impact of the loss of major customers for the Company or reduction in the volume of purchases by major customers, delays in the timing of adding new locations with existing customers, the successful completion of the acquisition of Diedrich Coffee, Inc. and subsequent integration, the Company s level of success in continuing to attract new customers, sales mix variances, weather and special or unusual events, as well as other risks described more fully in the Company s filings with the SEC. Forward-looking statements reflect management s analysis as of the date of this press release. The Company does not undertake to revise these statements to reflect subsequent developments, other than in its regular, quarterly earnings releases.Additional InformationThis press release is neither an offer to purchase, nor a solicitation of an offer to sell, any securities. The tender offer to purchase shares of Diedrich common stock referenced in this press release has been made pursuant to a Tender Offer Statement on Schedule TO, containing an offer to purchase, a form of letter of transmittal and other documents relating to the tender offer (the Tender Offer Statement ), which GMCR and Pebbles Acquisition Sub, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of GMCR, filed with the SEC and first mailed to Diedrich stockholders on December 11, 2009. Security holders of Diedrich are advised to read the Tender Offer Statement, because it contains important information about the tender offer. Investors and security holders of Diedrich also are advised that they may obtain free copies of the Tender Offer Statement and other documents filed by GMCR with the SEC on the SEC s website at http://www.sec.gov(link is external). In addition, free copies of the Tender Offer Statement and related materials may be obtained from GMCR by written request to: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., Attention: General Counsel, 33 Coffee Lane, Waterbury, Vermont 05676.GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE ROASTERS, INC.Unaudited Consolidated Statements of Operations(Dollars in thousands except per share data) 16,663 (8)Repayment of long-term debt 9,543 5,839 (578) $73,192 Capital lease obligations (8) (168,619) 4,368 1,476 400 Additional paid-in capital 23,074 99,600 $349,363 135,981 Deferred income taxes, net 1,977 145 Noncash financing activity: 124,083 Diluted income per share: provided by operating activities: 45,828,777last_img read more

Too much information? Privacy questions over S. Korea virus details

Too much information? Privacy questions over S. Korea virus details

first_img‘Delicate balance’ South Korea has an advanced medical system, a free press and a strong culture of public accountability, and Seoul’s foreign minister says the government has stressed transparency when tackling the public health crisis.But even a health ministry civil servant could not avoid online bullying after contracting the virus.The municipal government of Sejong — where the ministry is based — revealed that she took gym classes taught by an infected instructor, as well as a detailed breakdown of her daily schedule.Most online comments slammed her as “irresponsible” for going to a gym during the outbreak, but others picked on items such as her lunch hours, saying they were too long for a civil servant and accused her of “slacking off”.The government’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters was forced to step in to defend her, saying her gym visits took place before authorities advised people to avoid public gatherings and adopt social distancing.”Excessive attacks and indiscriminate accusations against those infected will not only greatly hurt the individual, but will also impede prevention activities,” it said.A Seoul National University study has since shown South Koreans were more afraid of being “criticized” should they get infected, than the virus itself.There was a “delicate balance” between risk, information and privacy, said Jason Farley, a nurse practitioner and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.Simpler releases listing an infected person’s locations between certain dates would be sufficient, he told AFP, but the details being made public were leading to “significant stigma, discrimination and, in some cases, threats to individuals known to have COVID-19. “This behavior is unacceptable and should be discouraged.”  Allegations of affairs, revelations of membership of religious sects: South Korea’s openness about infected patients has been key in its fight against the coronavirus but raised uncomfortable questions over privacy and stigmatization.South Korea has confirmed more than 7,500 infections, one of the largest totals outside China, where the virus first emerged, although new case numbers have been declining for several days.Officials say that has been made possible by widespread testing of potential contacts — the South has carried out more than 210,000. And the consequences have been sometimes been embarrassing, even brutal, with the National Human Rights Commission describing them as “human rights violations”.”We can’t help but worry about the situation where the confirmed patients become subject to secondary damages, such as being criticized, ridiculed and abhorred online,” it said in a statement.Two confirmed patients have been accused of having an extra-marital affair, after their travel logs showed similarities.One Samsung Electronics employee who tested positive said she received hateful comments online after a city mayor revealed her boyfriend is a member of Shincheonji, the controversial religious sect linked to more than half the South’s cases.”I am having a hard time mentally, more so than (physical) pain,” she wrote on her Facebook account, which she has since turned private, asking other users not to share her personal information.”I’m so sorry to my family and friends,” she added.Michael Hurt, a sociologist at Korea National University of Arts, said that while the alerts reassure the public that authorities are dealing with the epidemic, they can unintentionally lead to “the stigmatization of areas as infected or ‘dangerous’.”Companies identified as visited by infected people have been hit.”I’m having a very hard time, we are basically getting no customers after an emergency alert went out which included our address,” a restaurant owner in Seoul told AFP.”I understand these alerts are necessary, but at the same time, my business has been virtually destroyed.” Topics : Across the country, local authorities have been issuing emergency alerts by mobile phone to those living or working in districts where new cases have been confirmed.The text message arrives with a shrieking warning, announcing nearby locations visited by patients before they were diagnosed with the virus and their links to other cases. More information is available on municipal websites, sometimes with breakdowns of individuals’ daily schedules, even down to the minute, and details of their residence and employer — often making them identifiable individually.In a country where virtually everyone owns a smartphone, doxxing — maliciously spreading private information about individuals and businesses online — has long been a problem.last_img read more

How Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani got so much better since spring training

How Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani got so much better since spring training

first_imgANAHEIM — As Shohei Ohtani has torn through the first few weeks of his career, each swing and each pitch taking down more of his skeptics, one question has persisted.What was up with spring training?Ohtani’s performance in the spring was poor enough to create the narrative that he was – at best – not ready for the majors and – at worst – just not as good as his reputation. At one point, an anonymous scout was quoted saying that Ohtani looked like a high school hitter.As he heads into the third start of his career as a pitcher, on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium, he’s seemingly put those ideas to rest. As a pitcher, he is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. As a hitter, he is batting .367 with three homers in his first 30 at-bats. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Given his early success, it’s natural to wonder just what changed so much in a few weeks.Ask around the Angels clubhouse and you’ll get some shrugged shoulders and rolled eyes. The composite, paraphrased, response is: Who cares? Spring training doesn’t count.Press the issue, and you don’t get much more.“I have no idea,” pitching coach Charlie Nagy said. “I honestly can’t answer that question.”Catcher Martín Maldonado said, for all the time he’s spent with Ohtani, the language barrier has kept him from truly understanding his mindset. “It’s hard to tell, because you can’t talk to him much,” Maldonado said. “It’s hard to find out what was going through his mind in spring training.”Ohtani also gives few clues, beyond saying he was just getting ready, and making adjustments. He also doesn’t seem inclined to analyze it too much.“Maybe I just got better,” he said through his interpreter. “I grew as a player maybe.”All of that aside, there are some tangible reasons that Ohtani’s results have been so much better since the season began.He was adjusting to the ball and the mound: In Japan, the slope of the mound is slightly different than in the majors. The ball also has a different texture and the seams are different. Both of those were elements that Ohtani gradually became more accustomed to throughout the spring.Pitching in Arizona is difficult: The air is thin and dry, which makes it tough to throw breaking balls.“It’s impossible to throw a curveball and a split finger in Arizona,” Maldonado said. “I’ve been there for 14 years and I know it doesn’t do much.”Sun-baked fields are also hard, meaning grounders shoot through the infield or bounce over the heads of infielders. Fly balls carry farther in the light air.“You can feel good and throw well and give up 10 runs,” Nagy said. “It’s hard to gauge by results.” He was unlucky: Ohtani pitched the equivalent of 13 innings in spring training, including the minor league, intrasquad and “B” games. Of the 30 balls in play against him, 16 went for hits. There were also a couple errors. Normally in the majors, about eight or nine balls would be hits out of every 30 in play.The difference is partly that he gave up some well-placed bloopers and seeing-eye ground balls. Also, in only one of his games did he have a representative major league defense behind him.Since the season began, his luck might have gone the other way. He’s given up three hits on 24 balls in play, less than half the normal ratio.He was working on things: It is the ultimate explainer for all that goes wrong with any player in spring training. It’s easier to accept from a veteran who we perceive has earned the right to experiment in the spring, but in retrospect it seems clear Ohtani was more focused on preparing than performing.Case in point: In Ohtani’s final start of the spring, his fastball velocity sometimes dipped as low as 89 mph. He also walked five hitters in 5-1/3 innings, after walking just three in his other outings combined.Afterward, Ohtani said he was simply working on his splitter in that game, so he threw it far more often that he would normally. Because the splitter is mostly a swing-and-miss pitch, not a pitch in the strike zone, that would explain the walks and the fastballs that he took something off to get in the zone.Clearly, throwing the splitter over and over in that final game worked. It’s been a devastating pitch in his first two games of the regular season.“My last start in Arizona I was able to throw a lot of the splitter and work on and it get a good feel for it,” Ohtani said. “I think it just carried over to the season.”There are few scouting reports in the spring: By all accounts, Ohtani is a student of the game, not just someone who relies solely on his physical tools.In spring training, he had little information on the pitchers or hitters he was facing. Even veteran catcher René Rivera knew nothing about the hitters he and Ohtani tried to get out when he pitched against the Tijuana Toros.There is not as much adrenaline in the spring: Even before Ohtani arrived for spring training, his former teammates in Japan suggested that he is the kind of player who rises to the occasion when the pressure is on.“Once he’d get in a little trouble, you could see he’d give it his whole effort, and it wasn’t even fair,” reliever Chris Martin, his former teammate said.That works on both sides of the ball. In the regular season, he’s so far batted 10 times with runners in scoring position, and he’s got two homers, a triple and two walks.He made a significant alteration to his swing: Ohtani, like many Japanese hitters, brought a pronounced leg kick to the United States. As the spring went on, it became apparent to him and his coaches that he was having trouble timing pitches with that kick. Hitting coach Eric Hinske suggested he lose the leg kick, and keep his foot down.In the final days before opening day, during the Angels’ exhibition games at Dodger Stadium, Ohtani told Hinske that he wanted “to see how far the ball goes in batting practice with his foot down,” Hinske said. “And he was hitting home runs all over in BP in L.A. After that, he said ‘I’m in.’”The ability to so quickly implement such a significant swing change has left his teammates in awe.“Guys will move their hands a quarter inch or a half an inch and feel completely uncomfortable,” Ian Kinsler said. “It’s been awesome to see.”The fact that Ohtani has also done that while his hitting routine is interrupted for his pitching routine is nothing short of remarkable to Hinske.“Very impressive,” he said. “Most hitters are in the cage every day, seven days a week, and he needs to take some time away… I think we’re lucky to be around him.”UP NEXTAngels (Shohei Ohtani, 2-0, 2.08) vs. Red Sox (David Price, 1-1, 2.40), Tuesday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM)last_img read more