The net turnover for the first nine months of the year recorded a year-on-year growth of 17.7%, rising to €1,789.8 million, boosted mainly by the excellent performance of the rice division, the incorporation of RiceSelect and the favourable exchange rate.
The group posted an EBITDA, or gross operating profit, of €214.3 million, 8.7% more than in the same period of 2014, with a net profit of €101.6 million, down 3.8% year on year owing to the absence of capital gains (the divestment in Deoleo generated gains of €9.9 million in 2014).
Net debt was reduced by €62 million in the third quarter of the year, to €448.2 million. The net debt forecast for year-end is €431.4 million, which includes the total amount of the ordinary and extraordinary dividend and the acquisitions of RiceSelect and Roland Monterrat. This forecast gives a debt/EBITDA ratio of 1.4x for the EBITDA estimated for year-end.
Although the commodity market was hit by imports of Asian rice into Europe and the poor harvest in Texas, the division achieved a very positive development thanks to the good performance of its brands and innovations in both Europe and the USA.
The innovations of the Brillante brand in Spain were particularly successful with Sabroz and the cups of Brown Rice with Quinoa. At the same time, the North American business grew by more than 3%, at a higher rate than the market, achieving a market share of 24%.
The division posted a turnover of €951.7 million and an EBITDA of €126.5 million.
This division suffered the consequences of the price hike in durum wheat in the second half of 2014 and a further rise in July 2015. Within the division there are two different scenarios:
1. In Europe, with highly concentrated Distribution, we adjusted our prices successfully and, on an almost flat market, our brands increased their market shares by around 5%. Garofalo is having an excellent year, increasing its sales by 5.7%.
2. The North American business is still having to cope with the added difficulty of falling consumption, by around 3.4%, due to the new trends in low carbohydrate diets. In an effort to curb that trend and get consumers to return to the pasta shelves, we are investing in gluten-free, ancient grains and 150-calorie varieties, which are healthier.
The division posted a turnover of €877.6 million and an EBITDA of €94.8 million.
Ebro expects to close 2015 with a turnover of €2,444 million, up 15.3% on 2014. The group EBITDA is expected to be around €302 million, with a year-on-year growth of 5.2%. Net profit is forecast at €142.3 million, down 2.5% on 2014.
A new year of growth
Despite a complicated scenario in raw materials, the consolidated results of the past nine months and the year-end outlook reveal a highly satisfactory development of the Group’s business. We have increased our market shares in the most important business segments and are broadening our sphere of activity through organic and inorganic growth. Two significant businesses have been incorporated this year: RiceSelect, which opens the door to the organic and aromatic rice segment in the United States, and Roland Monterrat, which strengthens our position in fresh ready-to-serve food in France. Both these businesses are highly complementary for the Group’s current product portfolio and will greatly enhance Ebro’s global portfolio.