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Ebro Puleva: Profit rises 60 percent in H1/2008

Madrid / ES. (epg) Ebro Puleva Group chalked up a net profit of 78,6 million EUR in the first half of 2008, 60 percent more than in the same period of 2007. The net turnover rose 13 percent year on year to 1’446 million EUR. The EBITDA for the period totalled 146 million EUR, following an increase in advertising investment and the impact of the exchange rates. After adjusting the effect of both these factors, the EBITDA would have been two million EUR up on last year.

The combined effect of the outlay for the acquisition of Exxentia, the buy-back of treasury shares, currently representing 2,9 percent, financing of the strategic supplies policy and the traditional seasonal factor in the evolution of this item gave the company a Net Debt of 1’249 million EUR.

On a difficult scenario for the world food market, the Ebro Puleva Group has achieved a satisfactory evolution thanks to the strength of its Meal Solutions business, which has grown in volume, maintained its market shares and generated a 23 percent year-on-year growth in EBITDA. These results and the lowering of prices of our principal raw materials (milk, rice and durum wheat) bode extraordinarily well for the Group´s development in the second half of the year.

Rice: On a scenario marked by a 200 percent hike in the price of the raw material, the development of the rice business has been outstanding, with growth in both sales and margins. The EBITDA grew 43 percent to 61 million EUR and turnover was up 16,3 percent to 445,5 million EUR. The performance of the US subsidiary was extraordinary, boosted among other things by the success of the microwave line, which multiplied its sales fourfold to almost twenty million units. Riviana thus contributed 151 million EUR to the total turnover of the division and 24 million EUR to its EBITDA.

Pasta: The pasta division maintains its positive performance, strengthening its leadership on the Canadian and French markets and hanging on to its share on the US market. New World Pasta contributes 126 million EUR to the division turnover, taking it to 465 million EUR.

Dairy: The EBITDA of the dairy division was down by 6,7 million EUR, dented by the hauliers´ strike, the restructuring costs in Lactimilk and the variations in the price of the raw material. Our dedication to baby and infant nutrition continues to bring in excellent results, reflected in the nine-point growth in market share achieved by Puleva Peques®, which has now cornered 44,8 percent of the market. The division turnover was up 6,3 percent to 263 million EUR.

Sugar: The most significant event during the period was the conclusion of the restructuring process deriving from the CMO Sugar Reform. At the AGM in June, the company´s shareholders approved the studying of a possible spin-off of the sugar business. The process is under way and we will be able to give further information during the second half of the year. Against this backdrop, the division recorded a turnover of 295.8 million EUR and an EBITDA of 27.7 million EUR.