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URC income up 15% to P11.6B

GOKONGWEI-led Universal Robina Corp. (URC) posted a 15% increase in net income last year to P11.6 billion due in part to lower debt and interest expenses, it said on Tuesday.

In a regulatory filing, the listed food company said the onset of the pandemic early last year hit trading conditions and consumer sentiment, “with contractions seen in several snack food and beverage categories the company competes in.”

“Despite these challenges, URC has gained significant market share and performed ahead of competition,” it added.

Net sales for the year amounted to 133.1 billion, a 1% drop from 2019 on a reported-peso basis but up 1% on a constant currency basis.

URC said operating income rose by 7% to P16 billion, with improved margins. It said the growth was driven by better cost management and favorable input prices. It said these factors offset brand-building investments, among others.

Sales of URC’s branded consumer foods business reached P103.6 billion in 2020, which consists of its domestic and international branded consumer products.

From the figure, the company said its domestic revenues were flat at P61.2 billion, as growth of products such as snacks, noodles, and other filler type categories offset the decline of products such as ready-to-drink beverages and candies.

The company’s international revenues amounted to P41.2 billion, a decline of 5% against 2019 in peso terms, but flat on a local currency basis.

“Growth in Oceania was able to offset the slower recovery of other ASEAN markets,” the company said.

Meanwhile, URC said the sales of its agro-industrial and commodities businesses rose 7% year on year to P29.6 billion.

Its commodities food group grew 21%, with its sugar and renewables unit improving 33% due to the company’s acquisition of Central Azucarera de La Carlota and Roxol Bioenergy Corp. from listed sugar company Roxas Holdings, Inc.

In contrast, sales of the company’s agro-industrial group fell 10% as a result of downsizing in its hog farming operations.

URC President and Chief Executive Officer Irwin C. Lee said the company remains well-positioned for the long term and will push forward to meet customer demands despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We are focused on better serving our consumers, our customers, and our communities. Consumption of our products is not likely to dissipate; in fact, the relevance of our categories in consumers’ lives potentially increases as we adjust to changing consumer and shopper trends,” Mr. Lee was quoted as saying.

On Tuesday, URC shares at the stock exchange rose 2.79% or P3.60 to finish at P132.70 each. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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