Seprod’s sugar closure sweetens profit

Seprod’s costly journey into a new difficult area of sugar manufacturing resulted in billion-dollar losses for the group. That management chooses to take on the worse performing and most difficult sugar operation in Jamaica raises some fundamental questions about corporate decision making, but then sometimes experience teaches wisdom.
After shedding the above loss-making business, profit from continuing operations surged 351 percent to $1.3 billion for the September quarter, up from just $285 million in 2019, but the jump benefited from $780 million, generated from other operating income, with $762 million of it being gains realized on the sale of a property.
Without the additional boost from the property sale, profit from continuing operations would stand at $551 million for the quarter, an increase of 94 percent, and $1.8 billion for the nine months to September, an increase of 52 percent. Earnings per share came out at $1.75 for the quarter and $3.38 for the nine months to September but would stand at 75 cents for the quarter and $2.41 for the year to date when adjusted for the one-off gain.
Revenue saw a sharp increase of 23 percent for the quarter to $10.1 billion from $8.2 billion and more moderate growth of 16 percent for the nine months to September to $28.7 billion from $24.5 billion in 2019.
Direct Expenses grew 12 percent for the quarter from $5.3 billion in 2019 to just under $6 billion in 2019, and 15 percent for the year-to-date from $15.8 billion to $18.1 billion. Gross profit margin increased to 41 percent for the quarter from 35.2 in 2019 and 37 percent for the nine-month period from 36.4 percent. Gross profit (GOP) jumped 42 percent for the September quarter moving from $2.9 billion in 2019 to $4.1 billion in 2020. GOP increased 17 percent to $18 billion from $15.8 billion for the nine months to September in 2019.
The Manufacturing segment generated revenues from third parties of $7.26 billion, up from $6.7 billion in 2019 while, Distribution accounted for revenues of $21.4 billion in 2020 and $18 billion in 2019. Segment results for the Manufacturing amounted to $2.47 billion in 2020 from $2 billion in 2019, while Distribution contributed $1.36 billion from just $684 million in 2019.
Despite a 52 percent increase in administrative and other operating expenses from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion, profit before finance and other costs grew by 159 percent for the period from $651 million to $1.7 billion.

Some of Seprod”s products.

Loss from discontinued sugar manufacturing operations contributed to a loss of $31 million for the September quarter and $47 million for nine months. Total comprehensive income stood at $1.3 billion for the quarter, up from a loss of $124 million, and $2.6 billion for the nine months to September, up from $470 million in 2019.
Gross cash flow from operating activities stood at $4 billion, and working capital pulled the amount down to $2 billion. Dividend payment of $367 million and acquisition of property net and loan receipts of $1 billion saw net funds for the period increasing $1.6 billion to end at $3 billion. At the end of September, shareholders’ equity stood at $16.5 billion, while $14 billion was due from borrowings. Current assets ended the period at $17 billion including, Inventories of $6 billion, receivables $7 billion and cash and bank balances of $3 billion, while Current Liabilities stood at $9.6 billion with current loan liability amounting to $3.6 billion.
The stock is currently trading at $60.75 on the Main Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange. With the most profitable period being the December quarter, IC is forecasting earnings of $4 per share for a PE of 15.2 based on 2020 earnings.
The group is involved in the Manufacturing and Distribution of various household goods for the local and overseas markets, including cereals, flour, milk, cooking oil, margarine, to name a few. the stock has moved up in price since the results, historically, it has delivered some of the best returns for investors in the local market over several years. It’s a good long term investment.

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