Madrid / ES. (ep) The Ebro Puleva Group posted a net turnover of 1.278 million euro in the first half-year 2007, a year-on-year growth of twelve percent. Operating profits also showed strong growth, reflecting the sound performance of the business in the first six months. In particular, the Ebitda or Gross Operating Profit was up 12,5 percent to 153 million euro, following investments of 42 million euro in advertising, 22 percent more than last year.
Unlike the first half of last year, marked by severe stripping of both properties and non-strategic businesses, the attributed profit of this period was generated almost entirely as income from businesses, which totalled 49 million euro. This shows how well the different divisions are doing.
The soundness of the different business units and the strong cash generation have enabled the Group to reduce its Net Debt by 60 million euro year on year, with an 8,75 percent increase in Equity to 1,176 million euro, after twelve months in which Ebro Puleva has purchased Minute Rice, sold its businesses in Central America and paid out 40 million euro in dividends.
Satisfactory progress, backed by a multinational profile
The importance of the multinational profile taken on by the Group was further consolidated in the first six months of 2007. As a result, 55 percent of the Ebro Puleva business, in terms of both sales and Ebitda, was generated on overseas markets. Moreover, the outstanding performance of the international rice and pasta divisions, especially in North America, was the mainstay for the firm growth of the Group in both turnover and profits, offsetting the weaker contribution by the sugar business.
The recently announced agreement for the acquisition of Birkel reinforces the company´s international position, boosting its pasta division and the development of its Meal Solutions business.
Core business results
Sugar: The results of this division were dented by the disappearance of sales to Intervention and exports outside the European Union. The division turnover suffered an 8,4 percent decline year on year to 317,5 million euro and posted an Ebitda of 37,3 million euro. The foreseeable publication in October of the final terms of the CMO Reform will define the future of the sugar business for the period 2009 to 2014.
Rice: On a market hampered once again by the high prices of the raw material, the rice business achieved a satisfactory development, increasing its sales and margins. The Ebitda grew by 36,4 percent to 42,8 million euro and turnover was up 14,6 percent to 383.2 million euro. The spectacular performance of the US subsidiary was based on the launching of healthy products (brown rice) and Asian varieties, recording growths of 20 percent and 31 percent in each of these categories. The introduction of the convenience concept in this market was also highly successful and the future expansions of this range will enhance an already outstanding business. Riviana contributes 137 million euro to the total turnover of the division, and 20,7 million euro to its Ebitda.
Dairy: The dairy division continues to reap the benefits of its industrial restructuring and cost-cutting plan. The firm commitment to baby and children´s foods is bringing in excellent results, with a year-on-year growth o 73 percent in volume. Sales slid 2,2 percent to 249 million euro, while Ebitda holds firm at last year´s levels, 29,8 million euro, improving the quality of income with a margin of over twelve percent.
Pasta: Against a backdrop of rising raw material prices, the pasta division maintains its positive performance, with growth in both volumes and profits. Panzani has strengthened its market positions, reaching record levels in the different categories in which it operates. New World Pasta contributes 117,3 million euro to turnover, taking it to 347 million euro. The division Ebitda was 48 million euro, 18,6 million euro of which was contributed by the US company.