Ebro closed 2014 with a net profit of €151.6 million, up 14.2% on 2013, while the net profit on continuing operations rose 11% to €157 million.
Its net turnover totalled €2,121 million, with a year-on-year growth of 8.4%.
The EBITDA rose 2% year on year to €287.2 million, with an EBIT (net operating profit) of €227.2 million.
The company’s year-end debt was €67.3 million more than in 2013, at €405.6 million. This includes the cost of purchasing 52% of Garofalo and the value of the remaining 48% in case the call option is exercised, a significant part of the €23 million invested in the new fresh pasta plant in Communay and the investment in new gluten-free pasta production lines in North America. This gives us a debt/EBITDA ratio of 1.4, which puts the company in a comfortable position to undertake its forthcoming growth projects.
In the brand business the division’s evolution has been satisfactory in all the geographical areas in which we operate. Within this favourable business we highlight the excellent development of Riviana, USA, which recorded its highest yield since it joined the Group in 2004, the record turnover of our Thai subsidiary Herba Bangkok, the successful launching of the latest innovations in Spain, combining the concepts of convenience and health, the satisfactory evolution of business in the UK and Netherlands and the total recovery of earnings in our Moroccan subsidiary, which is also boosting its business by launching two new local brands.
From an industrial point of view, the drought that has affected Texas since 2011 has impeded harvesting sufficient crop for the 2014/2015 campaign, affecting the earnings of American Rice.
Overall, the division has achieved a significant growth in turnover to €1,140 million and its EBITDA has risen to €149 million.
Despite the general situation strongly marked by the high durum wheat prices, which hiked more than 83% in Europe over the year and 71% since the harvesting of the new crop in July, our subsidiary Panzani achieved an outstanding performance, based on a new, well-judged communication strategy. It has recorded its best growth in volume in the past ten years and an 8% increase in consumption, being recognised as the second preferred brand in France according to the Panel Toluna prepared in July 2014 for “El Gran Libro de las Marcas”.
This evolution was not equalled in North America, where the profits of our businesses are still being dragged down, not only by the commodity price hike, but also by the very fierce competition on the market, maintaining a high level of promotion in the category throughout the year and making it impossible to pass the increased cost onto consumers in the price of the final product. Nevertheless, the new ranges of gluten free and ancient grains pasta, with beneficial properties for health, have had an extraordinary performance.
The division posted a turnover of €1,029 million and an EBITDA of €146.3 million.
Innovation as a major lever for growth
The results achieved during the year, with improvements in both EBITDA and net earnings not only year on year but also since the outlook in October, confirm the adequacy of our business model, which is constantly being reinvented, interprets the markets and anticipates the needs of our customers and consumers, using research and development as one of its main tools for growth.
As a result, our brands have maintained and even increased their market share, our product/country matrix has been extended and numerous new products and concepts have been put on the market, including Lustucru Selection, Quick Pasta, Ancient Grains, SOS Para, Brillante a la Sartén, SOS Platos, Salsas Squeez, Gluten Free, Whole Grain, High Fibre, Calcium and Quinoa, etc.
The company has also achieved inorganic growth through our acquisition of 52% of the Italian premium pasta company Garofalo, giving us fresh impetus on the Spanish market with the sales of this pasta brand.
Owing to the good year-end results, we have been able to announce an extraordinary dividend for our shareholders of €0.15 per share which, added to the ordinary dividend of €0.51 per share, takes the total remuneration to €101.5 million.