URC half earnings up 42% to P8.5 billion

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Universal Robina Corp. (URC), the Gokongwei-owned snacks giant, reported a net income of P8.5 billion in the first half of the year, up 42 percent compared to the same period last year.

Irwin Lee, URC president and CEO, said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh down markets.

“Despite these challenges, we were still able to continue to gain market shares, grow topline, maintain profit, and increase cash flow,” he said.

Lee said the company is preparing and reshaping the business for long-term sustained value creation despite the crisis.

“This gives us confidence to continue investing for growth while increasing returns to shareholders,” Lee said.

URC announced a five percent increase in dividends and a share buy-back plan for 2021.

Thus, URC is raising 2021 dividends to P3.30 per share versus P3.15 per share in recent years.  It will implement a share buy back program amounting to P3 billion.

URC’s strong financial position is also expected to be further bolstered by cash proceeds from the sale of its remaining 60 percent stake in the Unisnack Oceania joint venture, when regulatory approvals are completed.

At the end of the first half, URC’s balance sheet had a healthy cash balance of P17.3 billion, net debt of P26.3 billion and a low gearing ratio of 0.42.

Net sales went up two percent to  P68.5 billion, driven by the continued recovery of the international business units and growth from the commodities division.

Operating income was flat  at P8.2 billion as pricing initiatives and cost savings were able to partially offset increasing input costs and changes in mix.

Sales of domestic and international branded consumer foods amounted to P51.7 billion for the first half with domestic revenues dipping by seven percent to P29.2 billion.

International revenues, on the other hand, continue to recover, with a 13 percent growth to  P21.6 billion as all clusters grew versus last year.

Both Vietnam and Thailand were key drivers as they recorded high double-digit growth for the period.

Sales of its agro-industrialand commodities also posted a two percent increase to P16.8 billion.

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