Canadian dairy group Saputo booked higher full year earnings on the back of increased sales and lower financial costs.
The company said EBIT in the 12 months to 31 March rose to CAD1.04bn (US$771.74m), compared to CAD870.9m in the comparable period of last year. Net earnings increased to CAD731.1m, up from CAD601.4m.
Higher earnings were supported by a drop in financial expenses, including lower interest charges on long-term debt. The company also reported higher revenue in the year, with sales increasing to CAD11.16bn versus CAD10.99bn in the prior-year period.
Sales growth was supported by increased domestic revenues, where sales jumped 5.1%. Saputo’s sales in the US inched up 0.4% after the company’s sales in the country fell 1% in the fourth quarter amid lower cheese volumes.
Saputo’s international division, which takes in operations in markets including Australia and Argentia, reported a 3.4% decline in annual sales.
All-in, Saputo’s group fourth-quarter sales were down 0.5%. The company’s fourth-quarter net income stood at CAD164.3m, compared to CAD165m a year earlier.
TD Securities analyst Michael van Aelst described Saputo’s fourth-quarter numbers as “surprisingly poor” but added: “It appears that most of the shortfall was related to temporary market factors in the US and higher costs to support a major relaunch of Saputo-branded cheese in Canada – factors that the Street could not have predicted fully. For the most part, these factors have since normalized, allowing management to express confidence in the growth outlook.”
Looking to the coming year, Saputo said its “strategic investments” and “global complementary platforms” leave it well-placed to “face challenges in the dairy market environment”.