Olam's first-quarter earnings up 7% on higher revenue

An Olam facility in Ghana. Olam group chief executive Sunny Verghese says its recent acquisition of BT Cocoa in Indonesia and proposed acquisition of Dangote Flour Mills in Nigeria are examples of investing further in its leading businesses.
An Olam facility in Ghana. Olam group chief executive Sunny Verghese says its recent acquisition of BT Cocoa in Indonesia and proposed acquisition of Dangote Flour Mills in Nigeria are examples of investing further in its leading businesses.PHOTO: OLAM INTERNATIONAL

Diversified portfolio helped firm better navigate headwinds: CEO

A rise in revenue helped agri-food company Olam International lift its first-quarter earnings although the increase was partly offset by higher depreciation and finance costs.

Net profit rose 6.9 per cent to $168.9 million while turnover surged 16.7 per cent to $7.35 billion for the three months to March 31.

Earnings per share came to 4.89 cents against 4.57 cents a year earlier, it reported yesterday.

No dividend was declared, the same as last year.

Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) grew 14.2 per cent to $420.3 million on increased contribution from edible nuts and cocoa, which offset lower contributions from peanuts, rice and sugar. Edible nuts and spices rose 10 per cent to $962.1 million on better sales volume.

Turnover for confectionery and beverage ingredients, which include cocoa, fell 9.4 per cent to $1.7 billion on lower cocoa and coffee prices and reduced coffee volumes. The company said improved supply chain and processing operation margins in the cocoa business contributed to higher Ebitda.

"Our diversified portfolio enabled us to better navigate continuing volatile macro and industry headwinds," said co-founder and group chief executive Sunny Verghese.

"We have started well in executing the... strategic plan, which focuses on strengthening our high-growth businesses and getting closer to customers based on changing consumer preferences."

He said Olam's recent acquisition of BT Cocoa in Indonesia and proposed acquisition of Dangote Flour Mills in Nigeria are examples of investing further in its leading businesses.

"We have also successfully exited our sugar trading business, the fundamental fund business, our wood products business in Latin America, and our peanut farming and processing operations in Argentina in the (first quarter) as planned."

Olam shares closed up 1.14 per cent at $1.78 after the results were released yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2019, with the headline 'Olam's first-quarter earnings up 7% on higher revenue'. Print Edition | Subscribe