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Medellin-based multinational paper products and personal-hygiene specialist Grupo Familia revealed in an August 20 filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera corporate oversight agency that its first half (1H) 2019 net income rose to COP$126 billion (US$37 million), up from COP$98 billion (US$28 million) in 1H 2018.

Gross revenues also rose, to COP$1.28 trillion (US$374 million), from COP$1.14 trillion (US$333 million) in 1H 2018. Operating earnings likewise rose to COP$190 billion (US$55 million) versus COP$153 billion (US$45 million) in 1H 2018.

As for second quarter (2Q) 2019, gross revenues rose to COP$667 billion (US$195 million) versus COP$578 billion (US$169 million) in 2Q 2018, while operating earnings rose to COP$88 billion (US$25.7 million) versus COP$73 billion (US$21 million) in 2Q 2018.

Net income climbed to COP$56 billion (US$16 million) in 2Q 2019 versus COP$44 billion (US$13 million) in 2Q 2018, the filing shows.

Commenting on the results, Familia general manager Andrés Gómez Salazar cited “solid growth” in 2019 sales based in part on the launch of new products including a novel four-ply “Expert” toilet paper, “AcochaMax” kitchen towels, “Premium Touch” baby diapers and “Buenas Noches” feminine-hygiene napkins.

Grupo Familia markets its products in 20 Latin American/Caribbean countries and has its principal factories in Medellin and Rionegro, Antioquia; two other plants in Colombia; two more plants in Ecuador and single factories in Argentina and the Domincan Republic.

Medellin’s city-owned “Plaza Mayor” convention center reported August 21 that its first-half (1H) 2019 revenues soared 43% year-on-year, to COP$13 billion (US$3.8 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to COP$3.7 billion (US$1.09 million), compared to an EBITDA net loss of COP$3 billion (US$884,000) in 2015, according to Plaza Mayor.

Expenses likewise were cut by 28% below budget this year, to COP$4.45 billion (US$1.3 million), “responding to a plan of austerity and prioritization raised to guarantee the sustainability” of Plaza Mayor, according to the organization.

As a result, net income came-in at a positive COP$1.2 billion (US$354,000) for 1H 2019, compared to a 1H 2018 net loss of COP$1.5 billion (US$442,000), according to the organization.

“Thanks to articulated work with allies, customers and suppliers, Plaza Mayor continues to consolidate itself as a responsible, solid and sustainable company,” according to the organization.

On a related front, BRC Investor Services S.A. securities qualification company recently issued a “BBB +” rating with a positive outlook for Plaza Mayor, due to “the best financial performance and the highest profitability in recent years, as well as strengthening of our market position, which reflects the increase in occupancy rates in our facilities,” according to Plaza Mayor.

Earlier this year, the Comptroller General of Medellín issued a favorable fiscal and financial evaluation report on Plaza Mayor for full-year 2018.

The Comptroller’s evaluation “highlighted aspects such as management control with 99.9% compliance, including timely and quality delivery [of financial reports], regulatory compliance in accounting, budgetary matters, tax regulations and effective compliance with the actions of the improvement plan for previous audits,” according to Plaza Mayor.

So far this year, Plaza Mayor has hosted several major events including the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, the WCS World Cities Summit, Colombiatex and the Latin America Label Summit.

More recently, Plaza Mayor hosted Colombiamoda and the 75th ANDI Assembly (Colombia’s biggest business-industrial trade association), and is now preparing to receive more events including the Hass World Avocado Congress, the Fourth International Conference of UNESCO Learning Cities and the Summit Orange Economy conference, according to the organization.

A new report from Medellin-based think-tank Proantioquia shows that the Medellin metro area and the surrounding Antioquia department must redouble efforts to boost industrial specialization, public education, public health and transport infrastructure in order to meet the challenges of the coming decade.

The report (see: identifies and examines problems and opportunities in several crucial areas: industrial specialization, people-skills development, environmental protection, economic advancement, specialized education, infrastructure development, public health funding, public security and the “peace process” with guerilla/criminal groups.

As for industrial specialization, the report cites a study by Colombia’s national statistical agency (DANE) indicating that Antioquia had a specialization index rating better than the national average, at 1.07.

But in a separate, related study by Colombia’s national economic planning department (DNP), Antioquia came in eighth place over-all in industrial specialization in 2018 -- better than the 10th place showing in 2017, but still below the rankings of Bolívar, Santander, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Atlantico, Boyaca, and Caldas (see chart, above).

DANE statistics show that 16% of Antioquia’s gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) comes from industry – far above the 12% of PIB that industry contributes to Colombia’s economy nationally, the report notes.

Even so, Antioquia lags far behind the 42.7% PIB contributed by industry in China or the 23.4% PIB from industry in Brazil, the report notes.

However, greater promotion of technological innovation could help boost Antioquia’s industrial PIB, the report concludes.

As an example, Medellin’s “Ruta N” technology center could help lead the charge by promoting and sponsoring more high-tech forums such as TEDx Medellin, “Charlas N,” the Start-up Forum and Fair, Innovation Land and others, according to the Proantioquia report.

The Antioquia departmental government and local Chambers of Commerce could help subsidize and organize more such events beyond just Medellin, the report adds.

As for science, technology and innovation (STI) development, the city of Medellin ought to dedicate at least 7% of its annual profits received from public utility EPM for STI partly at Ruta N, according to the report.

Such funds also could go for student scholarships in public schools and local/international university studies, with a special educational focus related to Medellin and Antioquia’s “clusters” of strategic industries including those tied to “global value chains,” according to the report.

Medellin's strategic clusters today include sustainable energy, fashion/textiles, advanced manufacturing, business tourism, digital businesses, health/medical business and sustainable habitats. Beyond Medellin, Antioquian strategic clusters already include coffee, cacao and dairy products, the report notes.

Infrastucture Deficit: Build More Highways

Recent studies by DANE and Colombia’s private-sector Competitiveness Council show just how far behind Antioquia still remains in building crucial transport networks in and through its mountainous terrain for connection to Atlantic and Pacific ports.

As a result, Antioquia ranks 19th among Colombia’s 26 departments in kilometers of primary highway per 100,000 inhabitants, and 14th in secondary highways per 100,000 inhabitants, the report shows.

A related study by Colombia’s national business trade group ANDI (Association Nacional de Empresarios) shows that Colombia’s industries in interior cities including Medellin and Bogota suffer by paying two-to-four-times as much as neighboring Latin American countries to move standard 40-feet-long containers to and from ocean ports.

What’s more, Antioquia ranks a poor 19th among all Colombian departments in average transport costs to-and-from major ports, or 21% higher cost than the national average, the study shows. Antioquia shipping costs recently averaged about US$34 per ton, or US$1,484 per container, versus just US$13.87 per ton in Boyaca, the report shows.

However, the now-under-construction “fourth generation” (4G) highways including Pacifico 1 & 2, Mar 1 & 2, and “Regional Norte” in Antioquia would dramatically reduce logistical costs, the study notes.

Public Health Cost Problem: Savia Salud

Meanwhile, Antioquia faces another huge cost problem: Savia Salud, Colombia’s single-biggest “mixed” public-private health network, which covers most of the poorest populations.

Savia Salud arose from the bankruptcy and collapse of several other subsidized “EPS” networks, which roughly resemble the “HMO” and “PPO” networks in the USA.

As the report notes, far too many people pay little or nothing for ever-more-complex, ever-more-expensive health services in Antioquia.

Colombia’s national government provides billions of dollars of subsidies for the “subsidized” (poorest) patients and the uninsured, while workers and employers help offset some of these costs in the parallel “contributory” EPS system, the report notes. The governments of Medellin and Antioquia pitch-in with yet more subsidies, while the employer-funded Comfama organization attempts to make-up the rest. But between the three organizations, the subsidies still aren’t enough.

Some sort of “capitalization” scheme (such as a partial sale of stock in Savia Salud to some private health-care company) potentially could ease the fiscal crisis, the report adds. Heftier subsidies from the national government also would help. But Colombia’s national government is already running deeply in the red, making massive increases in subsidies highly unlikely.

On the other hand, pioneering efficiency standards as employed by Sura -- Colombia’s leading private-sector EPS -- probably could help cut some of the deficit, according to the report.

Savia Salud has more than 2.2 million people in its network in Antioquia, of which 1.56 million are the poorest “subsidized” patients. Too many of these poorer people have chronic illnesses and demand the costliest medicines and costliest procedures, which they can’t afford in the private health networks. In addition, many poorer patients in rural parts of Antioquia (and elsewhere) that lack nearby, high-tech hospitals travel to Medellin where they contribute to chaotic, overcrowded conditions in local public hospitals, the report notes.

During the year 2017, Savia Salud ran-up a COP$175 billion (US$52 million) debt and had an accumulated negative net worth of COP$453 billion (US$134 million), the report noted.

What’s more, the mainly public Savia Salud “mixed” EPS “runs the high risk of politicization and burocratization given that its partners [including public hospitals] have certain [payment] expectations and [treatment] mandates,” the report notes.

“This is what in part is the experience today of Savia Salud, where there’s no co-responsibility” between the EPS network and health-service providers to rationalize care. “The model of the EPS has been distorted by an excess of political influence,” the report adds.

Education, Labor, Broadband Upgrading

On other key fronts, Colombia needs to invest much more in technical and technological education --  if the country ever hopes to compete better with more-advanced nations, the report notes.

Partly because of a history of relatively lower-quality public education -- which often doesn't prepare people sufficiently for today's higher-tech jobs -- about 45% of Colombia’s work force is in the “informal” sector rather than working for modernized companies and corporations, the report notes.

According to a recent report from Colombia’s Private Council on Competitiveness, Colombia needs to make several labor reforms, including:

1. Reduce the costs of certain mandatory, non-wage benefits.
2. Modernize labor codes to enable greater work-standards flexibilities.
3. Reduce the costs of hiring new workers.
4. Broaden the tax base to include more salaried employees, hence making possible more-competitive corporate tax rates.
5. Update the social-security systems for health and pensions.
6. Create incentives for informal businesses to convert to formal, tax-paying businesses.

As for public education programs, Antioquia is lagging behind many of its Colombian departmental neighbors, especially in the crucial “STEM” rankings for competence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the report notes.

Meanwhile, just over one-third (34.5%) of Antioquia’s students have access to higher education, according to the report. That puts Antioquia below Risaralda (41% access), Norte de Santander (40%), Boyaca (40%), Quindio (39%) and Atlantico (39%), according to the report.

At the other end of the scale, nations that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on average ensure that 73% of students have access to higher education, while Latin America in general has 48% access coverage, according to the report.

For Antioquia to hit the Latin American average, it ought to be offering higher-education coverage to 263,000 students between 17 and 21. But Antioquia was offering such coverage to just over 199,000 students as of 2017, the report shows.

Future development of proposed “digital universities”  would enable more students in rural areas to access university education -- and that would help cut Antioquia’s higher-ed coverage gap, the report notes.

Expanding broadband internet access also would boost educational prospects for students throughout the Antioquia department, the report notes.

Current Antioquia broadband penetration is 16.6% of the department’s population, second ranked in all Colombia -- and way ahead of the 10% penetration average in all of Latin America, according to the report.

However, more-advanced nations have 35% broadband penetration, while Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Puerto Rico have broadband penetration rates between 17% and 27%, according to the report.
For Antioquia to reach Uruguay’s broadband penetration, another 780,000 citizens would need connections, while 1.27 million would need to be added to reach advanced-nation levels, according to the report.

Medellin-based electric power giant EPM announced August 15 that local leaders from communities around Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia are now participating in a broad government/citizen/EPM expert panel examining possible stability issues with the main rock massif adjacent to the giant Hidroituango hydroelectric dam in Antioquia.

The decision to include the “MEDAV” (Mesa de Dialogos y Acuerdos-Afectados por Hidroituango, Valdivia) leadership group came following an August 10 letter from MEDAV to a Colombian court judge charged with overseeing the multiparty panel now studying the Hidroituango stability issue.

In its letter, the MEDAV group pointed out to the judge that the left-wing political organization “Rios Vivos” – a current member of the multi-party study panel -- fails to represent the affected Valdivia community and “hasn’t made any positive contribution to solving the problems generated” by the May 2018 collapse of a Hidroituango diversion tunnel.

That tunnel collapse last year triggered a flood that temporarily forced evacuation of many homes in Valdivia downstream of the dam.

“Rios Vivos” has fought the Hidroituango hydroelectric project since its inception -- and publicly calls for the dam’s destruction now, no matter whether it would operate safely, and no matter that such a destruction would cost Antioquia untold billions of dollars in future public revenue via the production of zero-emissions, clean electricity for all Colombian citizens.

Instead, Rios Vivos “has dedicated itself to creating panic and delaying the process of bringing about positive solutions for our community,” according to MEDAV.

Since the Hidroituango dam has now been completed, and since the Cauca River is now safely flowing over the dam’s engineered spillway, Valdivia residents are gradually returning to homes previously evacuated.

“Persons and families that suffered from the [sudden, temporary flooding that resulted from the diversion tunnel collapse in May 2018] don’t consider themselves ‘victims’ of Hidroituango, but rather ‘temporary casualties’ affected by the [temporary flooding] -- and we value the efforts by EPM to repair all the damages caused,” according to the MEDAV letter.

“Contrary to what ‘Rios Vivos’ claims, the communities around Puerto Valdivia have built relations of trust with EPM, because this company has kept us informed about the measures they have taken to repair the damages and to minimize the risks of the project. In addition, EPM has complied with the commitments they have assumed to help those affected,” the letter concludes.

In an August 15 press bulletin, EPM added that the technical panel has now met six times, with a seventh meeting scheduled August 28 and a site visit scheduled for September 2-3.

The panel eventually aims to produce a technical study analyzing the stability of the rock massif adjacent to the dam -- in order to decide whether the Hidroituango project should continue to move forward.

The US$5 billion Hidroituango project is scheduled to start producing power in late 2021, then reach its full 2.4-gigawatts capacity in 2024 -- providing 17% of the entire Colombian electric power output.

Medellin-based socially responsible gold miner Mineros SA announced that its second quarter (2Q) 2019 net income fell 41% year-on-year, to COP$11 billion (US$3.2 million).

“The decrease in net income is mainly explained by an increase in financial expenses -- close to COP$6.6 billion (US$1.9 million), derived from the acquisition of Gualcamayo [mining in Argentina], as well as [currency] exchange [costs] on the order of COP$3.7 billion [US$1.07 million) and higher exploration expenses” for proposed mining projects in Argentina and Chile, according to Mineros.

On the other hand, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 47% year-on-year, to COP$94 billion (US$27 million). EBITDA margin for the latest quarter rose slightly, to 31.5%, compared to 31.1% in 2Q 2018, according to Mineros.

Revenues also rose 45% year-on-year, to COP$298 billion (US$$86.7 million), “explained by a 30% increase in production due mainly to the new ounces from our [recently acquired] operations in Argentina, at an 11.8% higher sale price of gold” as measured in Colombian pesos, according to the company.

Operating costs also rose 55% year-on-year, hitting COP$235 billion (US$68 million), “due to the operating costs (about COP$75 billion/US$22 million) in Argentina that did not exist in the prior year, as well as greater purchases of mining material in Nicaragua [at COP$9.3 billion/US$2.7 million],” according to Mineros.

Gross profit for 2Q 2019 grew 17%, reaching COP$63 billion (US$18 million), with a margin of 21.2%, versus COP$54 billion (US$15.7 million) with a margin of 26.3% in 2Q 2018.

Gold production rose 30% year-on-year, of which Colombia accounted for 15,172 ounces, while Nicaragua contributed 31,610 ounces and Argentina contributed 23,935 ounces.

Full-year 2019 gold production is now estimated in the range of 280,000 to 300,000 ounces of gold equivalent, with “expectations that gold prices continue with high volatility and with an upward tendency,” according to the company.

Colombia Permit Update

Regulatory permitting delays had been holding-up expansion of Mineros' environmentally responsible alluvial mining in Antioquia, although “we have made some progress,” according to Mineros.

The company recently won permit approval from the Forest Directorate of the Ministry of Environment, following an environmental study on possible impacts on epiphytic species. The company also eventually convinced Corantioquia to lift a prior ban on riverbank mining.

On another front, Mineros recently completed a required impact study for Colombia’s national environmental licensing agency (ANLA) for some proposed logging near a mining site. Then, in an August 16 filing with Colombia's Superfinanciera corporate oversight agency, Mineros announced that it has finally won crucial ANLA approvals. 

"Mineros S.A. informs the market that via 'Resolución No. 01612' of August 15, 2019, ANLA resolved our request to modify the environmental management plan for our alluvial operation, unifying some of the resource-use permits," according to the company announcement. 

"Through this modification it is [now] possible to continue our alluvial operation, which had been restricted because of delays in obtaining permits," the company added. 

Medellin-based multinational Grupo Orbis – which includes paint manufacturing giant Pintuco – on August 15 reported COP$6 billion (US$1.7 million) net income for second quarter (2Q) 2019, a big reversal from a COP$17 billion (US$4.9 million) net loss in 2Q 2018.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) skyrocketed by 490% year-on-year, to COP$43.6 billion (US$12.6 million), according to the company.

“This good result was due to the dynamics of its businesses in Colombia and its subsidiaries abroad,” according to Orbis.

“In the paints business, [profits growth were from] significant growth of Pintuco stores and high performance coatings in Colombia, the recovery of profitability in Central America, and the optimization of raw material costs and operational expenses,” according to the company.

“In the [Andercol] chemical business, the good results of Brazil and the profitability of the companies in Colombia [can be credited to] finishing the process of stabilization of the new production plants.

“In O-tek [water-treatment technologies subsidiary], results are tied to the good performance of our subsidiary in Argentina and in the [favorable] positioning of the cleaning business, with 7.3% growth in its brands,” according to Orbis.

For first half (1H) 2019, corporate-wide revenues grew 4.11% year-on-year, to COP$680 billion (US$197.6 million), while gross profit rose 12%.

“These results are due to various dynamics within our businesses, among which the following stand out: a 10% increase in sales of the paints business, where the decorative painting and high performance coatings businesses stand out; the completion of the transfer of Colombian plants for chemical business to Cartagena; and better results of the group’s subsidiaries abroad, especially in Brazil, Central America and Argentina,” according to the company.

After decades of delays, a new, COP$1.1 trillion (US$317 million), 24-kilometers-long highway -- including Colombia’s longest tunnel – on August 15 opened to link Medellin directly to the Jose Maria Cordoba (JMC) international airport at Rionegro.

According to Concesion Tunel Aburra-Oriente (CTAO, the project consortium involving 74 companies), the new highway -- including two long tunnels, one short tunnel and nine viaducts -- would cut travel time from Medellin to JMC to 18 minutes, compared to 45 minutes currently.

The route also will cut other personal transit times to and from Medellin and the rapidly growing “oriente” (east of Medellin) region. Drawn to its pleasurably cooler climate, cleaner air and more wide-open spaces, Medellin residents are increasingly moving east into thousands of new “oriente” homes and businesses every year, toward what locals dub “Medellin’s second floor.”

“The Aburrá-Oriente Road Connection is a mega-project that connects the Aburrá Valley Metropolitan Area with the San Nicolás Valley -- two regions of great importance for our [Antioquia] department, including large-scale industrial, tourist, environmental and mobility dynamics,” according to CTAO.

“Starting in Medellín, in the Baltimore sector of the Las Palmas highway, a new road interchange allows access to the first tunnel, with a length of 774 meters.

“After this tunnel, there is an open-sky track in the east-central area of the Aburrá Valley, then comes a second tunnel of 8.2 kilometers in length.”

A parallel tunnel alongside the new tunnel has already been excavated in anticipation of converting the two-lane highway into four lanes -- divided for faster travel in both directions.

While some politicians and local residents historically had raised concerns that the tunnel might drain vital groundwater from local farms near the route, the CTAO consortium responded by employing the most advanced European tunnel-construction technologies, according to CTAO.

Beyond employing a special cement to prevent water escape into the tunnels, the consortium also installed 77 groundwater monitoring systems, according to CTAO.

The “Covipacifico” highway construction consortium announced August 14 that its engineers have begun initial work towards recovery of a 300-meters-long section of the crucial, under-construction “Pacifico 1” highway wiped out by a landslide last May.

The landslide not only destroyed the new section of highway but also wrecked a 300-meters-long section of existing highway below, blocking the traditional route between Medellin’s southern suburb of Caldas and the town of Bolombolo alongside the Cauca River.

As a result, freight traffic southwestward from Medellin toward the main Pacific port of Buenaventura has been forced to take lengthy and costly detours. Final resolution of the landslide problem is likely to take many more months.

“After the [land] mass movement that happened suddenly on May 28 that affected the existing road and the Pacifico 1 divided highway under construction, Covipacifico now works constantly and responsibly in the search for solutions that allow to recover mobility in the Sinifaná sector (PR 59 + 600 and PR 60 + 000) of Colombia Route 6003,” according to the consortium.

“Thanks to the best climatic and safety conditions that have occurred in the affected area in the last 15 days, it has been possible for specialist [engineers] to access the site in order to establish mitigation measures.

“Currently, Covipacifico through its construction contractor mobilizes the resources necessary to advance the actions recommended by the experts.

“Part of the approaches to be implemented [include] the construction of canals and drain structures for water management, critical [land-] mass management, implementation of deep drains in slopes and control structures at the top of the slope.

“Additionally, an early warning monitoring system will be implemented that will allow for timely reaction to any eventuality.

“The implementation and progress of this mitigation phase will define technical alternatives that enable removal and recomposition activities in the area, and thus seek to obtain a temporary, gradual and secure solution for [traffic] user mobility,” according to the consortium.

Toronto, Canada-based Gran Colombia Gold (GCC) – operator of Colombia’s largest underground gold-mine in Antioquia – on August 14 reported second quarter (2Q) 2019 adjusted net income of US$14 million, up from US$8.2 million in 2Q 2018.

Meanwhile, for the first half (1H) 2019, adjusted net income rose to US$27 million, up from US$18.1 million in 1H 2018.

“Improved earnings in the second quarter and first half of 2019 compared with the corresponding periods last year continued to reflect the significant contribution of Segovia [Antioquia] operating performance in 2019 on revenues, total cash costs per ounce, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and income from operations,” according to GCC.

“With the recent run up in gold prices, well above the average for the first half of this year, our second half earnings, cash flows and cash balance are poised to benefit from our leverage to gold prices,” added GCC CEO Lombardo Paredes.

“We’ve continued to improve our liquidity in the second quarter, bolstering our mid-year cash position to US$51.3 million, including the net proceeds of the convertible debentures financing completed in April.

“The recently announced high-grade results from our drilling program at Segovia in the first half of 2019, and the work we are doing to identify and prioritize step out and brownfield drilling targets, increase our confidence in the potential to add mineral reserves and extend mine life at our flagship operation.”

GCC raised its annual gold production guidance for 2019 to a range of between 225,000 and 240,000 ounces. Total gold production of 57,882 ounces in the second quarter of 2019, up 9% over the second quarter last year brought the total for the first half of 2019 to 118,483 ounces, up 12% over the first half last year.

“With another 18,166 ounces produced in July, the company’s trailing 12-months’ gold production at the end of July 2019 now stands at 229,776 ounces, up 5% over 2018’s annual production,” according to GCC.

“Despite a 1% year-over-year decline in spot gold prices to an average of $1,307 per ounce in the first half of 2019, the company reported a $6 per ounce improvement in realized gold prices to an average of $1,296 per ounce in the first half this year.

“This was the result of lower charges in a new refining contract that the company entered into in January 2019 with an international refinery, saving approximately $20 per ounce sold compared with its previous arrangement.

“With the ‘London P.M. Fix’ gold price ranging from a low of $1,390 per ounce to a high of $1,506 per ounce thus far in the third quarter, the company expects to see a significant increase in revenue and operating cash flow in the second half of 2019 compared with the first half of 2019 if spot gold prices remain at the current level.”

Total cash costs per ounce came-in at $655 per ounce in 2Q 2019, down from $696 per ounce in the 2Q 2018, bringing the average for the first half of 2019 to $638 per ounce, down from $683 per ounce in the first half last year.

Adjusted EBITDA rose 25% year-on-year to US$33.2 million, bringing the total for the first half of 2019 to $68.5 million, up 27% over the first half last year.

Exito Posts 2Q 2019 Net Loss

Thursday, 15 August 2019 11:07 Written by

Medellin-based multinational retail giant Grupo Exito on August 14 reported a COP$18 billion (US$5.2 million) net loss for second quarter (2Q) 2019, down from a COP$114 billion (US$33million) net profit in 2Q 2018.

Recurring earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were flat year-on-year, at COP$868 billion (US$252 million).

Meanwhile, operating revenue (measured in Colombian pesos) rose 12.3%, to COP$14.5 trillion (US$4.2 billion).

Revenue growth was strongest in Brazil (up 11.2%) and in Colombia (up 3.3%) thanks to the “multichannel” strategy, which combines conventional store sales with growing on-line (internet) and home-delivery sales.

Colombia sales so far this year have benefitted from a 47% jump year-on-year in internet and home-delivery sales, totaling 1.7 million shipments in first-half 2019, representing 4.7 % of total sales of Grupo Éxito Colombia, according to the company.

“The positive results of the organization in Colombia were also leveraged on [store] innovation, with the Éxito ‘Wow,’ Carulla ‘FreshMarket’ and ‘Surtimayorista’ value formats, which grew double-digit sales,” according to the company.

Meanwhile in Brazil, the Grupo Pão de Açúcar (GPA) division “continued to report outstanding figures, due to the consistent growth of the ‘Assaí’ wholesale model and the digital transformation actions,” according to Exito.

As for Uruguay operations, this division “had a solid growth in profitability.”

As for Argentina operations, this division “achieved positive EBIDTA margins amid a challenging macroeconomic context,” according to Exito.

“The joint work between the four countries where the company has a presence continues to focus on digital transformation initiatives and synergies of best commercial practices and joint purchases,” according to Exito.

Grupo Éxito ended the second quarter of 2019 with 1,510 food outlets: 531 in Colombia, 864 in Brazil, 91 in Uruguay and 24 in Argentina, with a consolidated sales area of more than 2.8 million square meters.

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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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