Ebro chalked up a net profit of €220.6 million in 2017, a year-on-year growth of 30%. This was mainly due to the positive impact of the tax reform recently passed in the USA, thanks to which our net deferred taxes have been adjusted to a lower rate, from 35% to 21%.
The net turnover, pushed up by the good performance of the rice division, rose 1.9% year on year to €2,507 million.
The group achieved a 4.3% growth in EBITDA, which stood at €359 million, while the EBIT rose 4.5% YOY to €279.3 million.
Following the heavy investments made in organic and inorganic growth, net debt stood at €517.1 million at 31 December 2017, giving a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.4. This low debt level means we are in a comfortable position to continue our organic and inorganic development.
Against a backdrop of higher inflation in raw material prices in the last quarter of the year, especially for the aromatic varieties and those produced from harvests in the USA and southern Europe, the good performance of our European and North American businesses produced highly satisfactory results in this division.
• In Europe, we launched more than 80 products in the health and convenience lines over the year. In Spain, excellent performance was achieved in the aromatic rice varieties and the Sundari® special rices, the new SOS Vidasania® healthy grain range and the Brillante Benefit® pulse-grain blends.
• In USA, despite the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which hampered product deliveries in the fourth quarter, Riviana achieved a record yield. The microwave products sold under the Minute® brands soared into double-digit growth.
The division posted a turnover of €1,345 million and an EBITDA of €206 million.
This division achieved a positive development, which could have been even better had it not been for the spike in raw material prices in the summer, in both Europe and North America.
In this context, Panzani managed to sustain satisfactory performance in the higher value added categories, while Garofalo maintained double-digit growth, consolidating its premium positioning and commencing distribution in the USA through Riviana.
In the North American market, which shrank 1.3% during 2017, our brands managed to increase their market shares, and the health categories, especially gluten free and super greens, achieved satisfactory growth.
The division posted a turnover of €1,218.4 million and an EBITDA of €163 million.
A good year
The results obtained during the year reflect the good health of the Groups businesses, our correct choice of investments for organic and inorganic growth, the perfect alignment of the different Group companies with their customers and consumers, achieved through permanent monitoring to keep abreast of new trends and meet their needs, and the success of a strategy that upholds innovation as the driving force for growth.
Over 2017, we consolidated the positioning of all our major brands in the healthy food segment; we strengthened our recently created organic division with the incorporations of Vegetalia and BIA; we enhanced the differentiation of our portfolio with the inclusion of the Italian company Geovita; and we increased our market shares in the most important countries in which we are present.
We have closed a very satisfactory year with our sights set on strengthening the leadership of our core businesses during 2018. So starting as we mean to go on, we reached a binding agreement in January to buy 70% of the Italian company “Bertagni 1882”, premium fresh pasta producers.