• Fourth-quarter sales and profits up
  • Margins expand on strong US showing
  • Company benefits from lower commodity costs

Acquisitions and a "beneficial commodity market" have helped Grupo Bimbo post a jump in its fourth-quarter sales and profits.

The Mexican food group said that net sales in the fourth quarter rose 35.7% to MXN30.1bn (US$2.35bn), reflecting the incorporation of an acquisition in the US, as well as a 19.7% increase in Latin America.

In December 2008, Canadian food processing and distribution company George Weston sold its US fresh bakery business to the Mexican baker. The purchase price totalled US$2.5bn, including around US$125m of interest baring assets.

At the time, Grupo Bimbo hailed its acquisition as a transformational deal that would help the Mexican-facing baker build its credentials as an international player.

The company's consolidated gross margin expanded 3.1 percentage points to 53.5%, due to lower commodity costs in Mexico and the US.

Operating and EBITDA margins for the quarter expanded by 1.3 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively, to 12.6% and 16.7%, mainly attributable to strong results in the US and gross-margin improvement in Mexico.

Net majority income totalled MXN1.8bn in the quarter, an increase of 38.1% compared to the same period of 2008, while the margin expanded 10 basis points to 5.8%, despite increases in other expenses, comprehensive financing costs and taxes.