Growing Lasco Manufacturing profits

Profit at Lasco Manufacturing rose 10.5 percent in the December quarter, to $218 million from $197 million in 2018. For the nine months to December, profit increased by 11 percent to $781 million from $701 million in 2018.
The company’s net results rose modestly, this is due to a hike in its tax bill from $28 million in the 2018 quarter to $71 million in 2019 and from $129 million for the nine months to December 2018, to $169 million in 2019. Before the increased tax charge, the latest quarter results were up a robust 28 percent to $289 million and 14.5 percent for the year to December at $949 million.
The improved profit flowed from a rise in sales revenues of 10 percent for the quarter to $2 billion from $1.8 billion in 2018 and 4 percent for the year to date to $5.9 billion from $5.6 billion in 2018.
The gains in 2019, following on from the March 2018 fiscal year when profit moved from $561 in 2017 to $1.07 billion. The 2017 bene was off sharply from $826 million generated in 2016 and $612 million in 2015. The current fiscal year should see the company surpassing the $1m mark in profits for the second time.
Improvement in profit margin, in the first half of the year, continued into the December quarter with 36 percent from 34 percent in 2018 and for the year to date period, from 34 percent in 2018 to 37 percent this year. Input cost rose 6 percent in the December quarter, to $1.28 billion, compared to $1.2 billion in 2018, and was virtually flat for the year to date period at $3.7 billion versus $3.68 billion.  The rise in revenues and containment of cost below the growth in revenues resulted in operating profit rising 18 percent in the quarter to $719 million from $611 million and almost 11 percent for the year to date to $2.14 billion from $1.9 billion in 2018.

Lasco’s ICool drinks.

Administrative and Other operating expenses rose 7 percent to $393 million in the quarter and 9 percent in the nine months to $1.1 billion. Finance cost declined in the quarter, to $21 million from $26 million in 2018 and $90 million to $75 million for the nine months.
The company continues to expand its capacity. According to James Rawle, Managing Director, “Capital investments were primarily focused on the expansion of the dry plant at White Marl facility and is expected to be completed by the end of the financial year.”
Gross cash flow brought in $975 million, but funds were used to finance a number of items, with $314 million going into stock market investments, funding of a rise in receivables and inventories. Addition to fixed assets absorbed $166 million, while $220 million in loan net of inflows was repaid, with $250 million going into dividend payment. At the end of December, shareholders’ equity stood at $6.5 billion, with borrowings at just $1 billion inclusive of $484 million that will is payable within a year. Net current assets ended the period at $2.4 billion inclusive of trade and other receivables of $2 million, cash and bank balances of $719 million. Current liabilities ended the period at $1.6 billion.
Earnings per share came out at 5 cents for the quarter and 19 cents for the nine months. IC is forecasting 30 cents per share for the year to March and 45 cents for the 2021 fiscal year.
The stock traded at $4.25 on the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange with a PE ratio of 14 times earnings for 2020 and just seven times that of 2021. Net asset value is $1.57, with the stock selling at 2.5 times book value. At prices around the current level, the stock is a buy.

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