· The acquisitions policy, diversification of businesses and markets and innovation, key factors in the Group¿s outstanding performance in 2005
· Significant growth in operating parameters: EBITDA up 17% (295 million euro) and EBIT up 11.6% (208 million euro)
· The peak debt, reached following the acquisition of Panzani, has been reduced by 19% during the year
· Ebro Puleva distributed over 52 million euro in dividends
Madrid, 24 February 2006. The Ebro Puleva Group has lived up to the expectations aroused by its strategy of growth and diversification on new markets, achieving major growth in 2005 in both turnover and profits. More precisely, its net profit increased by 23% to 155,6 million euro and its turnover was 2.360 million euro, up 28% year on year.
Operating parameters also performed well. The EBITDA, or gross operating profit, grew by 17% to 295 million euro, while the EBIT, or net operating profit, amounted to 207.6 million euro, a year-on-year growth of 11.6%.
The heavy investments required to purchase Riviana and Panzani pushed the Group¿s debt up considerably, but through a combination of divestment in non-strategic businesses and assets, sale of properties and the generation of business, it has managed to reduce its debt by 19%, from 1,150 million euro to 930 million euro by year-end.
Ebro Puleva distributed more than 52 million euro among its shareholders in the form of dividends. The dividend per share (DPS) was 0.33 euro, paid in quarterly instalments over the year.
An effective diversification and growth strategy
2005 marked the end of the company¿s six-year Strategic Plan. Through fulfilment of this Plan, the Ebro Puleva Group has achieved a balanced diversification of its business areas from the point of view of the source of its revenue, by both businesses and markets, approximately 46% of its turnover now obtained on the international market. The business portfolio has also been balanced out between industrial and brand sales, acquiring companies with value added corresponding to well-known brands, such as Riviana and Panzani, among others. By virtue of its permanent dedication to innovation and its investment in R+D+I, Ebro Puleva has not only broadened its product portfolio, but has also become a reference in the development of high value added products. By year-end 2005, the Group had positioned itself as leader in both Europe and Morocco, number one in the US rice sector and leader in the juice and biscuit businesses in Central America.
Results by business lines
The instability of the European sugar sector, due to the discussions regarding the reform of the CMO for sugar and the excess stock from East European countries, have adversely affected both volumes and prices throughout the year, causing an 11% fall in sales and a 21.5% drop in EBITDA.
The results of Ebro Puleva¿s operations in this sector have been maintained at satisfactory levels, despite the soaring prices of the raw material during the year, with growth of 29.2% in turnover and 27.0% in EBITDA.
Riviana has posted outstanding results, with a 27% increase in market volume, achieved as a result of sustained demand, a good crop and streamlining of resources.
The performance of the dairy division was satisfactory, with a 4.2% increase in sales and a 16.1% improvement in EBITDA.
The Dairy Group took the necessary action in 2005 to optimise its installed capacity and streamline its cost structure, selling the Arteixo plant and the Leyma brand and converting the Jerez dairy factory into a plant producing precooked rice and pasta dishes.
Panzani has lived up to the expectations generated on its acquisition and increased its market shares, even in the tough conditions marked by weak demand and sinking prices. During its first eight months in the Group, it posted an EBITDA of 44.4 million euro