Ebro’s net turnover grew 21% more than in the first half of last year, to €1,193.1 million, thanks mainly to the excellent performance of the rice division, the contribution by Garofalo and, to a lesser extent, the foreign exchange factor.
The EBITDA, or gross operating profit, rose to €141.3 million, a year-on-year growth of 8%, while net profit stood at €96.4 million, down 14% on the first half of last year owing to the absence of capital gains (compared with 2014, when the group’s divestment in Deoleo generated €9.9 million).
Net debt totalled €510.2 million, €104.6 million more than at year-end 2014. Among other items, this figure includes the full amount of the ordinary and extraordinary dividend to be paid in instalments throughout the year, the purchase of RiceSelect and the evolution of the exchange rate, since a large proportion of the debt is in US dollars.
In a stable commodity scenario, apart from the price hike in the risotto varieties, this division achieved very positive progress, underpinned by an effective policy of sourcing diversification, the good performance of our new and specialty products and the outstanding development of our North American business, which has grown in the highest value-added categories: aromatic, ready-to-serve and organic rice.
One of the highlights of the past quarter was the incorporation of RiceSelect. Barely one month after it joined the Group it had achieved a year-on-year growth of 7%, which augurs an excellent future for this business.
The division turnover totalled €633.3 million, with an EBITDA of €85.2 million.
This division has had to cope with the aftermath of the price hike in durum wheat in H2 2014: raising prices and cutting back on promotions to protect profitability levels. Against this backdrop, we have been faced with two very different scenarios:
1. In Europe it was possible to adjust prices and in a practically flat market, our brands achieved a 5% growth while also increasing their market share. Garofalo continued its outstanding performance, increasing its presence on the Spanish, French, Portuguese, Netherlands and German markets.
2. The US business came up against the added difficulty of falling consumption, which dropped by around 3.4%, partly due to the new trends in low-carbohydrate diets. We trust that this trend will turn around and the excellent performance of the new gluten-free and ancient grains pasta ranges, with major health benefits, will be consolidated.
The division turnover totalled €584.9 million, with an EBITDA of €60.8 million.
A balanced model that will enable us to pursue further growth
The company’s consolidated earnings show that the Group has achieved a successful mix of products and geographical markets, able to maintain the Group’s profitability and counteract the different adverse effects as they arise in the different countries in which it operates. The keys to this successful mix can also be found in the knowledge of the market and differentiation achieved by the company, which has pioneered and innovated the development of new technologies and product categories, always in the forefront of consumer needs.
The two corporate operations announced by the company during H2 are particularly important in this regard: the acquisitions of RiceSelect in the US organic and aromatic rice segment and Monterrat in the fresh ready-to-serve segment in France. Both these businesses are excellent complements to the Group’s existing product range and will strengthen Ebro’s global portfolio considerably.