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A new report just issued by Medellin-based retail trade group Fenalco Antioquia finds that Colombians working abroad -- mainly in the U.S. and Europe -- sent a record US$1.52 billion back to their families here during 2021, boosting the post-Covid-pandemic economic recovery.

Citing statistics from Colombia’s Banco de la Republica, Fenalco found that Antioquians here not only received a record-setting US$1.52 billion in “remesas” (foreign transfers from family members abroad) for the entire year 2021, but that fourth quarter (4Q) 2021 remittances hit a new quarterly high of US$412.8 million, up 26% year-on-year.

“The record in remittances is explained by the global economic recovery,” according to Fenalco.

Not only did Medellin and Antioquia benefit from these foreign transfers, but Colombian families nationwide netted a record US$8.6 billion in total remittances last year, according to the report.

The largest beneficiaries were the departments of Valle del Cauca (first), Antioquia (second) and Cundinamarca (third), accounting for 61% of total national remittances, or US$5.26 billion.

In Colombian peso terms, the value of those dollar remittances to Antioquian families alone topped COP$5.68 trillion, the study shows – a big boost to the local economy.


Medellin-based paints, chemicals and hardware giant Grupo Orbis – which last month finally became 100% owned by Amsterdam-based Akzo Nobel – announced May 13 that its first quarter (1Q) 2022 net income rose 30%, to COP$7.6 billion (US$1.9 million).

“Grupo Orbis companies start the year with positive results that integrate the efforts in our commercial strategy, including mitigation of the impact of increases in costs of raw materials and transportation, efficient management of expenses, sufficient liquidity and working capital and the generation of value for our shareholders,” according to the Orbis filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera oversight agency.

Sales during 1Q 2022 rose 41% year-on-year, to COP$445.7 billion (US$112 million), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 30%, to COP$33.5 billion (US$8.4 million).

The “Pintuco” paints division saw sales jump 27% year-on-year, to COP$272.5 billion (US$68.7 million), while EBITDA rose 14%, to COP$23.2 billion (US$5.8 million),

The “Mundial” home-and-garden-supply division sales grew 16%, to COP$45.3 billion (US$11.4 million), while EBITDA also rose 16%, to COP$769 million (US$194,000), both growing by 16%.

As for its chemicals divisions -- “Andercol” in Colombia and “Poliquim” in Ecuador -- sales rose 66% year-on-year, to COP$170.8 billion (US$43 million), while EBITDA soared by 146%, to COP$14.2 billion (US$3.6 million), according to the company.


Medellin-based multinational health, insurance and financial services giant Grupo Sura announced May 13 that its consolidated net income for first quarter (1Q) 2022 rose 109% year-on-year, to COP$442 billion (US$113 million),

Consolidated revenues likewise rose 25% year-on-year, to COP$6.9 trillion (US$1.76 billion), according to the company.

“This level of results was driven by revenues obtained from associated companies as well as double-digit growth on the part of [insurance subsidiary] Suramericana,” mainly in the life and health-care segments, according to Sura.

Grupo Sura also cited gains from its partial holdings in Medellin-based banking giant Bancolombia and its Medellin neighbor, foods giant Grupo Nutresa.

Operating expenses increased 22.3% for the latest quarter, “due to an increase with Suramericana’s claims rate, specifically in the car segment, given difficulties with the auto parts supply chains,” according to the company.

“On the other hand, this increase in expense was also due to our subsidiaries resuming their investments and projects, which had been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic,” the company added.

Grupo Sura’s varied-sector investment strategy “demonstrates, once again, the advantages of having a diversified, well- balanced investment portfolio as well as the benefits of our efficiency efforts,” added Sura Chief Finance Officer Ricardo Jaramillo.

The Suramericana division saw a 21.4% increase in written premiums during 1Q 2022, totaling COP$5.6 trillion (US$1.42 billion), “given the positive levels of performance obtained with the Life (16.7%), Health Care (27.2%) and Property-Casualty (15.8%) insurance segments,” while also enjoying an 89% jump in investment income, at COP$376 billion (US$96 million), according to the company.

While auto accident claims rose, “this increase was partially mitigated by the reduced impact of the pandemic across the region, as Covid claims declined by 60.5% compared to the same quarter last year and by 11.4% compared to 4Q 2021,” according to Sura. .

Meanwhile, the Sura Asset Management investment services division saw a 1.9% dip in fee and commission income, “due to issues such as the regulatory cap on commissions charged in Mexico along with losses in value on the global capital markets, which impacted the funds' own investments (reserve requirements). This was compounded with the depreciation of Latin American currencies against the dollar, which produced a negative exchange difference,” according to Sura.


Medellin-based construction giant Conconcreto announced May 13 that its first quarter (1Q) net income rose 76.8% year-on-year, to COP$22 billion (US$5.3 million), from COP$12.6 billion (US$3.06 million) in 1Q 2021.

Gross revenues rose 70%, to COP$237 billion (US$57.6 million), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 31.8%, to COP$29.8 billion (US$7.2 million).

In its U.S. operations, Conconcreto now boasts a hefty US$229.9 million construction backlog.

Meanwhile in Colombia, Conconcreto’s “Devimed” highway concessions on the Medellin-Bogota highway and on the “Oriente” (east of Medellin) highway between Llanogrande and Rionegro saw operating earnings rise 3.2% and EBITDA by 1.1% year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the “doble calzada oriente” (DCO) project east of Medellin – tentatively scheduled for construction start in October 2022 – aims to add another group of investors, with Conconcreto already holding a 60% participation share.

As for the “Via 40 Express” highway project being developed between Bogota and Girardot, this project saw an 86% drop in EBITDA for 1Q 2022 because of year-on-year differences in compensation payments during the Covid-19 crisis in the year prior, the company added.

 


Medellin-based construction giant Construcciones El Condor on May 13 posted a COP$9.4 billion (US$2.28 million) net loss for first quarter (1Q) 2022, an improvement over the COP$51 billion (US$12.4 million) net loss in 1Q 2021.

Gross revenues were nearly flat year-on-year, at COP$164 billion (US$40 million) in 1Q 2022 versus COP$165 billion (US$40.1 million) in 1Q 2021, according to the company.

“Revenues for this period are mainly driven by the EPC [engineering, procurement and construction] contracts with the Concesiones Autopista Rio Magdalena, Ruta al Mar y Pacífico Tres, and the construction contracts with the Ruta al Sur Concession and Invias (El Toyo),” according to El Condor.

“Operating costs as of March 2022 were COP$133 billion [US$32 million], decreasing 9% compared to the same period in 2021. Gross profit was COP$28 billion [US$6.8 million], equivalent to a gross margin of 17.36%.

“Operating profit amounted to COP$22.4 billion [US$5.4 million], equivalent to 5.45% of revenues.

“Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) reached COP$33.4 billion [US$8.1 million], with an EBITDA margin of 20.76%,” up from 12.91% margin in 1Q 2021, the company added.

“This result is due to the ascending pace of execution that all work fronts have and is in line with the EBITDA margins generated by the company in the years prior to the pandemic and the transition of the renewal of the backlog that it faced in 2021,” the company added

Meanwhile, in March 2022, Construcciones El Cóndor won contracts to continue works on the Magdalena River Highway Project 2. “The absolute maximum price of the new intervention amounts to COP$756 billion [US$184 million], of which the company will receive an advance payment of COP$70 billion [US$17 million],” according to the company.

Commenting on the Colombian economy and its infrastructure sector, El Condor added: “Market analysts project that the variation in the Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 would be 7.8%. This growth would be mainly driven by the agriculture and real estate services sectors. The construction sector is projected to have a stable behavior for this quarter.”

At the end of 1Q 2022, El Condor reported a construction backlog for contracts worth COP$3.47 trillion (US$844 million).


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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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