Madrid, 19 April 2007. The development of the Ebro Puleva Group was satisfactory in the first quarter of this year, with strong, solid growth in both turnover and profits. The Group posted a consolidated net turnover of 650 million euro, representing a year-on-year growth of 14.5%. Operating profit also grew at an impressive rate in the first three months of 2007. The EBITDA, or Gross Operating Profit, was up 18.1% year on year to ¿74 million, while the EBIT, or Net Operating Profit rose 30.5% to 52 million euro.
The Attributed Profit totalled 29.2 million euro, a satisfactory figure deriving almost entirely from the yield of the different businesses and is not comparable with the figure recorded last year, due to the huge divestments in non-operating assets made during the first quarter of 2006. In any case, with the increase in profit margins across the board and the outstanding performance of our American rice and pasta businesses, the Ebro Puleva Group expects to recover and improve this factor throughout the year.
Ebro Puleva¿s consolidated results show the success of the acquisitions made by the Group in 2006 under its new Strategic Plan. The incorporation of New World Pasta and Minute Rice and, through these companies, the strong business developed by the Group in North America, has been vital for Ebro Puleva¿s growth during the period.
Core business results
The Benavente Packaging Plant, now fully operational, boosted sales to the European Union, enhancing the division¿s position on this market. On the other hand, the earnings from this division have been dented somewhat by the drop in sales to Intervention. Turnover fell 4.1% year on year to 156.9 million euro, with an EBITDA of 17.8 million euro.
On a market hampered once again by significant increases in the cost of the raw material, the rice business achieved a satisfactory development, bolstered by the excellent performance of the US subsidiary, which contributed 70.8 million euro to the total turnover of the division. EBITDA grew by 20.4% to 20.7 million euro, whilc the turnover rose 16.4% to 198.2 million euro.
The division has continued working on its supply source diversification strategy, completing the adjustments of the new factory in Egypt, enlargement of the Brinkley factory and purchase of a new plant in Thailand. Within its innovation policy, it has developed new ranges of pre-cooked products based on pastas and purées, which will be launched shortly in different countries.
The dairy division has begun to see the first effects of its industrial restructuring and cost-cutting plan. Its costs of production were reduced by 3% during the period and its logistics costs by 10%. The recent sale of its Leon factory to Lactiber will make these effects much more visible as from next year.
The innovation strategy is still strongly backed by consumers. In this regard, sales of infant food products achieved a year-on-year growth of 74.9%.
The division EBITDA rose by 0.4% and the quality of the results improved, with a margin of over 11%.
The pasta division maintains its outstanding performance, with growth in both volume and yield in the two companies comprising the business. New World Pasta contributed 63.6 million euro to turnover, which totalled 177 million euro. The division EBITDA was 25.5 million euro, of which 11.8 million euro were contributed by the US company.