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Companies 306

Written by November 01 2018 0

Medellin-based multinational power and utilities giant EPM announced October 31 that its nine-months 2018 net profits rose 12% year-on-year, to COP$1.7 trillion (US$528 million), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) also rose 12%, to COP$3.9 trillion (US$1.2 billion).

So far this year, EPM has spent COP$251 billion (US$78 million) in compensation costs to cover problems arising from a diversion-tunnel collapse in the US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt Hidroituango hydroelectric project. But this hasn’t stopped EPM from generating profits, general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta said.

“As complicated as it has been for our company to address the contingency in the Hidroituango hydroelectric project, thanks to our EPM people and their commitment to the quality of life of the community and the development of the country, we have achieved growth in the group’s profits,” Londoño added.

The city of Medellín – EPM’s sole shareholder -- has netted COP$806 billion (US$250 million) in profit transfers so far this year, while EPM’s gross revenues rose 10% year-on-year, to COP$12 trillion (US$3.7 billion), the company noted.

EPM’s main holding company contributed 49% to earnings, foreign subsidiaries 33%, national energy subsidiaries 16%, and national water subsidiaries 2%, according to the company.

A hike in Colombian national power sales this year mainly explains the boost in revenues and profits, according to the company.

Meanwhile, EPM so far this year has invested COP$2.3 trillion (US$714 million) in infrastructure, 84% of which has been in Colombia, the company added.

Written by October 30 2018 0

The Medellin City Council early this morning (October 30) voted 16-5 to approve EPM’s sale of an estimated COP$4 billion (US$1.25 billion) worth of non-strategic assets in order to fill a gaping fiscal hole left by problems with its under-construction “Hidroituango” hydroelectric dam here in Antioquia.

The vote followed dozens of public hearings, City Council subcommittee hearings, briefings with local, departmental and national politicians, regulatory agencies, interest groups, debt-funding sources and Wall Street analysts, plus massive public information campaigns.

The deal ultimately overcame objections from some Council members arguing that EPM would be better-off selling its half-interest in the telecom/internet company TigoUne rather than its 10% stake in Colombia power generator ISA.

EPM estimates that it should be able to complete the sales of all these assets by third-quarter 2019. Revenues from the sales will help EPM maintain its annual payments to the city of Medellin, its sole shareholder, as well as maintain its crucial investments in power, water and sewer infrastructures.

The approval also means EPM will sell its stakes in Chilean power and water companies and its small stakes in a handful of Colombian companies including Gas Natural de Oriente, Terpel, BBVA, Acerias Paz del Rio and others.

EPM also plans to slash some COP$1 billion (US$313 million) from operating costs and delay COP$2 billion (US$626 million) in investments in order to recoup an estimated COP$7 billion (US$2.2 billion) in lost electricity sales, repair costs and compensation costs from the three-year-delay in Hidroituango’s start-up.

In a question-and-answer document provided to the City Council and the public, EPM explained the rationale behind its sale decisions.

As to why the company decided against selling its Tigo-Une shares (also called “Une-Millicom”), EPM stated: “The approval of the sale of Une-Millicom would take more time, and the current situation demands greater agility to obtain the necessary resources for the development of the investment plan.”

Asked why it would sell its 10% stake in ISA, “if it is a profitable asset, even above other less strategic investments,” EPM stated: “As it is a non-controlling minority stake of 10.17%, EPM has no interference in the major decisions of ISA. Therefore, this investment does not contribute EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] or income and its sale would not affect the covenants of the credit agreements and EPM bonds.

“Additionally, ISA is a highly recognized company in Latin America whose shares are listed on the stock exchange, so its sale has a high probability of execution. Finally, the sale of the shares of ISA would generate a significant amount of resources to EPM, which would be comparatively more favorable than the annual amount of dividends received annually, which on average in the period 2014-2018 represent approximately 3.5% annually on the capital that EPM has invested in ISA.”

Dam Nears Completion, Spillway Starts Operating

On another crucial front, EPM reported that the Cauca River is just about to pass over the engineered spillway at the Hidroituango power project, which will enable closure of the tunnel to the mechanical room -- that room temporarily being used as an emergency diversion tunnel ever since the main diversion tunnel collapsed last April.

Once the mechanical room has been cleared of water, EPM can begin repairs to the project, hopefully leading to start-up of power production no later than 2021.

Written by October 28 2018 0

Medellin-based multinational foods giant Nutresa reported October 26 that its third quarter (3Q) 2018 net profit rose 19% year-on-year, to COP$386 billion (US$121 million).

“This growth is the result of a balanced equation that includes rising sales, efficiency in purchase of basic materials, productivity programs, lower growth in operating expenses and a continuing decline in financing costs,” according to Nutresa.

Consolidated sales of Grupo Nutresa grew by 3.4% year-on-year, hitting COP$6.6 trillion (US$2.07 billion) while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 5.1% year-on-year, to COP$841 billion (US$264 million). EBITDA margin was steady at 12.7%.

Sales in Colombia rose 4.1%, to COP$4.2 trillion (USS$1.3 billion) thanks to a volume hike of 2.3% plus a price hike of 1.5%. Sales abroad also rose 4%, to US$829.8 million.

“Innovation continues to be an important driver of growth for the Group -- and sales resulting from this concept represent 22.1% of the total,” according to Nutresa.

Gross profit rose 5.2% year-on-year, to COP$3.0 trillion (US$943 million), “the result of the increase in sales accompanied by a strategy to improve productivity,” according to the company.

“Operating income amounted to COP$634 billion [US$199 million], equivalent to an operating margin of 9.6%, and representing an improvement of 4.7% compared to the same period of 2017. This result is a consequence of the efficiencies in sales, administration and production during the period.

Net post-operative expenses fell 46% year-on-year, to COP$100.7 billion (US$31.6 million), “mainly explained by the significant reduction in financial expenses, resulting from lower indebtedness, and better interest rates in the main markets where the Group operates,” according to Nutresa.

Written by October 26 2018 0

Cemex LatAm Holdings reported October 25 that its Colombia division saw third quarter (3Q) 2018 sales dip 5% year-on-year, to US$134 million, but operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 11%, to US$26 million.

Gross profit also rose 11% year-on-year in Colombia, to US$53 million, while operating margin rose 15.9% year-on-year, hitting 19.4%, according to the company.

Meanwhile, for the first nine months of 2018, Colombian sales fell 8% year-on-year, while operating EBITDA here fell 12%, according to the company.

Volume sales of grey cement fell 8% year-on-year in 3Q 2018, while concrete sales fell 11% and sales of aggregates also fell 12% during the latest quarter here, according to the company.

Despite the year-on-year declines, “cement volumes increased 7% sequentially during 3Q 2018, reflecting the acceleration of industry demand after the [Colombian presidential] elections,” according to the company.

“Our EBITDA margin improved by 3.5 percentage points during 3Q 2018, due to higher prices, lower costs for cement maintenance and non-recurring effects that negatively impacted our 3Q 2017 results, partially offset by higher freight costs and lower volumes.”

Meanwhile, construction permits for Colombia’s social-housing market have increased by double-digits. This should boost demand for cement, the company noted.

“The new government recently announced the pillars of its housing strategy in the next four years, with a goal building 1 million new housing units in this period, or approximately 250,000 per year, including a new lease-with-purchase option and a new home-improvement program, along with other initiatives,” Cemex noted.

“During fourth-quarter 2018, we expect the residential sector to stabilize, supported by low interest rates, as well as improvements in the consumer confidence indicator and the home-purchase intention indicator.”

As for Colombia’s highway-infrastructure-building sector, “we continue shipping our products to several ‘4G’ [fourth-generation highway] projects that include the ‘Mar 1’ highway [in Antioquia], the Magdalena 2 highway, the Bucaramanga-Barranca-Yondó highway and the Bucaramanga-Pamplona highway,” according to Cemex.

“We estimate that 4G projects will demand 430,000 cubic meters [of cement] in total for 2018, of which we already have 130,000 cubic meters [in market share] and we expect to supply approximately 30,000 cubic meters more during 4Q 2018.

“We expect the infrastructure sector to increase by double digits during 4Q 2018; our volumes should continue to be supported by projects under execution,” the company added.

Written by October 25 2018 0

Colombia’s corporate oversight agency Superintendencia de Sociedades (SuperSociedades) announced October 25 that Medellin-based clothing manufacturer Everfit won approval for its bankruptcy reorganization plan.

According to SuperSociedades, “the [reorganization] agreement has an expected duration of six years and 10 months. This [deal] seeks the conservation of about 100 direct jobs and the productive [capacity].”

The deal also includes continuation of pension payments for 60 employees, at least through end-2018, according to the agency. “The payment to workers will be made in a single installment this year,” according to the agency.

SuperSociedades director Francisco Reyes Villamizar added that “the reorganization process seeks to recover and preserve the company as an economically productive unit, normalizing its commercial and credit relationships, through the operational and administrative reorganization of its assets or liabilities."

Everfit, founded here in 1923, filed for bankruptcy on July 29, 2016, as it was unable to compete against a flood of cheap textile and clothing imports -- mainly from China and elsewhere in Asia. Its web-page today features a “Compra Colombiano” (Buy Colombian) message (see photo, above). 

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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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