Profit soars 103% at Seprod

Seprod expected their entry into sugar production in 2009 was going to be a lucrative endeavour with their business acumen, strong capital base and vision they would succeed where others failed for decades. According to a Gleaner report in 2010, “the company not only acquired some 820 hectares of lands last year to add to its Golden Grove Sugar Company operations but also upgraded its factory. The strategy of an upgraded factory and “economies of scale” is expected to reap increased revenues for the group, according to Group Chairman Paul Scott.” Shortly after they acquired the business, the directors were told they were undertaking a huge gamble and would have been better off if they had left it alone. Ten years later, with billion-dollar losses, Seprod finally stopped the costly experiment.
Having disposed of the sugar manufacturing operation, the company slashed its sugar losses by 89 percent from $139 million for the first quarter in 2019, to just under $15 million for the quarter just ended. The reduction in the sugar operating losses helped the net profit to soar 103 percent to $633 million, up from $312 million from the first quarter of 2019 that includes net loss from discontinued operations of $139 million. So strong are the first-quarter numbers that the profit amounts to 65 percent of the full year’s profit in 2019. Earnings per share came out at 86 cents for the quarter.
First-quarter revenues increased six percent to $9.14 billion over the $8.6 billion for the comparative period last year. Manufacturing segment revenue was up 17 percent to $5.2 billion compared to March 2019, while distribution revenues increased 14 percent to $6.9 billion. Segment profit for the Manufacturing segment grew from $682 million to $1.14 million and that for the distribution segment increased from $156 million to $418 million. Export sales rose 13 percent over last year’s first quarter, accounting for $405 million in revenue or 4 percent of the total revenue.

Some of Seprod’s products.

The net profit increase for the quarter comes on the heels of an 8 percent decline in profit for the year ended 2019, dropping from $1.1 billion in 2018 to $973 million, although revenue increased for the year by 45 percent to $32.7 billion, resulting from acquisition and mergers mostly from businesses within the Musson Group.
For the quarter, direct expenses rose a modest one percent coming in at $6.4 billion and other operating expenses increased two percent to $1.78 billion year over year and finance costs fell three percent, from $287 million at the end of March 2019 to $280 million at the close of 2020 first quarter.
Seprod raked in $1.1 billion in operating profit for the quarter, a 32 percent increase over the $835 million in the corresponding period to March 2019. Operating profit margin rose 20 percent from 10 percent to 12 percent, year-over-year.
The group generated gross Cash inflows of $1 billion and ended with cash and equivalents of $1.1 billion, down from $1.48 billion at the start of the year. There was a sharp reduction in payables but a big increase in receivables since December 2019 and there was a near billion-dollar drop in inventories. Net current assets ended the period at $7.8 billion, after accounting for current liabilities of $6 billion. At the end of March, shareholders’ equity stood at $15.6 billion, but borrowings totaled $13.5 billion. Seprod paid $366 million in dividends compared to $330 million in the previous year’s first quarter.
The company executives note that COVID-19 had a “minor negative impact” on its first-quarter results and it is expected that the full effect of the pandemic on company operations will be realized in subsequent quarters. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that the Seprod group includes several companies that manufacture or distribute what many consumers deem as essential foods and pharmaceutical items, which should also factor into the company’s ability to withstand this economic shock during this period.
IC is forecasting $4 per share for 2020, with the stock trading at $51 on the Jamaica Stock Exchange with a PE ratio of 12.8 times 2020 earnings.

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