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Medellin-based multinational cement/concrete giant Cementos Argos reported November 10 in a filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera oversight agency that its third quarter (3Q) 2020 net income more-than doubled year-on-year, to COP$73 billion (US$20 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) also rose 9% year-on-year, to COP$479 billion (US$132 million), according to the company.

However, gross revenues dipped 5.6% year-on-year, to COP$2.36 trillion (US$649 million).

As for nine-months 2020, cumulative net income so far has dipped to COP$113 billion (US$31 million) versus COP$147 billion (US$40 million) in nine-months 2019, according to the company.

EBITDA rose in 3Q 2020 “despite the impact on volumes originated, mainly due to hurricanes and heavy rains in the United States,” according to Cementos Argos.

In the latest quarter, corporate-wide consolidated shipments of cement fell by 8.4% and concrete declined by 19.5%.

Corporate overhead reductions and “big-data” analytical innovations “allowed the company to achieve significant optimizations in costs and expenses, accompanied by better prices in Colombia and the United States,” the company added.

“Argos advanced in the implementation of artificial intelligence to analyze historical data on cement kiln and mill [operations] and thus obtain the optimal energy and raw materials mixtures to produce cement. The expected savings are US$13 million annually starting in 2022,” according to the company.

In the U.S. market, demand for cement and concrete “continued to show strength even amid the [Covid-19] pandemic and the political uncertainty surrounding the presidential elections,” according to Cementos Argos.

“The macroeconomic context continues to be moderately positive in relation to the construction sector. In infrastructure, the renewal of the ‘Fast Act’ for a year with US$13.6 billion added to the Highway Trust Fund and the announcement of the Florida 2020-2021 budget, which includes US$9.9 billion in funding for the Florida Department of Transportation, ensure the financing necessary to continue infrastructure projects,” according to the company.

In Colombia, “cement volumes of the company improved [in 3Q 2020] compared to the prior quarter, in-line with the market, but still remained below those of the third quarter of 2019,” according to the company.

Colombian government-subsidized home sales “increased during September by 43% compared to the same month of 2019 and continue with a positive trend” even in the face of the Coronavirus crisis, according to Cementos Argos. Non-subsidized home sales during September 2020 likewise increased 16% year-on-year.

As for major Colombian infrastructure projects, “the formal start of the construction of the Bogotá Metro, together with the investments announced by the government for more than COP$30 trillion [US$8.2 billion] in the first wave of ‘5G’ [highway] projects” along with completion of previously-started highway projects “reaffirm the commitment to continue investing in this sector and establish strong drivers for the consumption of cement for the next 10 years,” according to the company.

As for Caribbean and Central America markets, “this region benefited during the quarter due to the trend of [home improvement] self-construction that prevails in emerging markets, leading to improvements in EBITDA and volumes of cement especially in Honduras, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico,” the company added.


Wall Street bond rater Fitch Ratings announced November 6 that Colombia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to rebound to a positive 4.9% in 2021, up from the Coronavirus-caused 6.9% GDP contraction this year.

Meanwhile, bond ratings on Colombian sovereign debt remain at a modest “BBB-” with a continuing negative outlook because of the hangover effects of Coronavirus contractions this year, according to Fitch.

“Colombia’s 'BBB-' rating reflects the government’s long track record of conservative macroeconomic policies that have underpinned macroeconomic and financial stability,” according to Fitch.

“Its ratings are constrained by high commodity dependence, weaker external metrics compared with peers, rising government debt burden and structural weaknesses in terms of low GDP per capita and weaker governance indicators relative to peers.

“The ‘negative’ outlook reflects downside risks to the economic growth outlook and uncertainties about the capacity of the government’s policy response to decisively cut deficits and stabilize and eventually lower debt in the coming years, following the sharp rise in general government debt burden as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Beyond the 4.9% GDP rebound in 2021, “Fitch projects growth of 3.8% in 2022, above the estimated medium-term growth potential of about 3.0% as a result of the large output gap that has emerged,” according to the company.

Fiscal deficit is forecast to rise to 9.1% of GDP in 2020 “due to the sharp fall in revenues and higher spending to combat the pandemic as well as economic reactivation measures,” the Wall Street analyst adds.

“The deficit is expected to gradually diminish to 7.5% in 2021 and 4.9% in 2022. The government suspended its fiscal rule for two years to combat the pandemic and reactivate the economy with increases in spending in both years.

“Although Fitch expects revenues to increase in 2021 given the cyclical economic rebound, income taxes and oil revenues will likely underperform the budget targets given lagged effects of 2020 economic activity and drop in oil prices,” the company added.

Tax revenues would rise by around 2% of GDP in 2022-2024 “due to implementation of a tax reform,” but “budget deficit reduction in 2022 will depend on the government's ability to pass revenue-enhancing measures given the spending rigidities which regional transfers and other nondiscretionary social spending impose,” according to Fitch.

Government budget deficits this year largely tapped foreign finance, “including the planned use of US$5.3 billion from the IMF [International Montetary Fund] Flexible Credit Line,” according to Fitch.

Foreign direct investment has covered around 70% of Colombia’s current-account deficit in the last decade, “where it is expected to remain over the medium term.”

“Net external debt is expected to rise to 18.4% of GDP in 2020 -- surpassing the current BBB median of 10.2% -- up from 12.1% of GDP in 2019,” according to Fitch.

“International reserves have risen in 2020 to US$57 billion, from US$52.7 billion in 2019, improving external liquidity measures (10 months of current account payments, up from 7.6 months in 2019).

“Colombia's floating [peso-to-dollar exchange] regime and the IMF's Flexible Credit Line (augmented to US$17.2 billion in September 2020) help mitigate external vulnerabilities,” the analyst concluded.

President Duque Congratulates President-Elect Biden

Meanwhile, Colombia President Ivan Duque on November 8 congratulated incoming U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and incoming Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Duque noted that long before the election of new President Biden, “when he was a member of Congress, [Biden] supported the initiative that was Plan Colombia, and has maintained a very close relationship with our country.

“With [former U.S.] President Bill Clinton we made the leap [expanding] Plan Colombia. With President George Bush we made progress not only on security issues, but also on trade issues.

“During the administration of President Obama, very important issues regarding the relationship with Colombia were also explored. And I also want to emphasize that with the administration of President Trump we have had a very good and fruitful relationship on security issues, the fight against drug trafficking, trade, innovation, and we have recently signed what is known as 'Colombia Crece,’ a program which is a new version, a new update of what was Plan Colombia at the time,” Duque concluded.

Wall Street Soars on Biden Election, Covid-19 Vaccine News

Meanwhile, on top of the new, encouraging outlooks for Colombia and continuing good relations with the U.S. -- its number-one investment and trading partner --  major U.S. and European stock indexes skyrocketed today (November 9) on news of President Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, along with news from U.S. drug maker Pfizer and its German biotech development partner BioNTech announcing a 90% effectiveness for a new Covid-19 vaccine.


ISA 3Q 2020 Net Income Jumps 19% Year-on-Year

Friday, 06 November 2020 08:20 Written by

Medellin-based multinational electric-power transmission, highway concessionaire and telecom infrastructure giant ISA announced November 5 that third quarter (3Q) net income rose 19% year-on-year, to COP$483 billion (US$128 million).

Operating revenues for the latest quarter jumped 21% year-on-year, to COP$2.4 trillion (US$638 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 18.8%, to COP$1.5 trillion (US$399 million), while EBITDA margin hit 61.9%, according to the company.

“ISA's extraordinary results, obtained amidst the pandemic, were possible not only due to the resiliency of its business but also due to a financial strategy based on the efficient management of [corporate overhead] expenses, as well as the profitability of its operations,” according to the company.

During the latest quarter, new investments in construction projects totaled COP$3.5 trillion (US$930 million).

Corporate debt/EBITDA and net debt/EBITDA indicators closed at 3.8-x and 3.1-x, respectively, “which are adequate levels to maintain the current credit rating,” according to ISA.

For the nine months of January through September 2020, net income rose 17.9%, to COP$1.4 trillion (US$372 million), while net margin reached 19.8%.

Operating revenues for nine months 2020 totaled COP$7.1 trillion (US$1.89 billion), up 21.3% year-on-year. Nine-months 2020 EBITDA rose 19.4%, to COP$4.7 trillion (US$1.25 billion), while EBITDA margin came-in at 65.1%, according to the company.

In the latest quarter, operating revenues rose mainly thanks to start-up of energy transmission and substation projects in Brazil, Colombia and Peru, as well as an increase in construction revenues from road concessions mainly in Peru, Brazil, and Chile, the company added.


Medellin-based electric power giant Celsia announced November 5 that its third quarter (3Q) adjusted net income rose 16% year-on-year, to COP$59 billion (US$15.7 million).

Consolidated revenues for 3Q 2020 rose 2% year-on- year. However, consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) declined 22%, to COP$201 billion (US$53.5 million).

Because of Colombia’s mandated reduction in electricity tariffs -- to help those hurt by the Covid-19 crisis -- Celsia absorbed a COP$39 billion (US$10 million) loss on its energy service rate and also was forced to defer COP$78 billion (US$20.7 million) in billings.

Despite those financial setbacks, “the company reached an average collection rate of 95% and the demand for energy in the regulated market in some weeks of September and October presented levels equal to the pre-Covid period,” the company added.

During the latest quarter, the company inaugurated the 19.9 MW PCH (small-scale hydroelectric plant) in San Andrés de Cuerquia and continued upgrades to its existing Tolima and Valle power distribution networks.

Also during 3Q 2020, “an additional non-recurring expense totaling COP$22.98 billion [US$6 million] was presented to the Superintendency of Public Services because of an increase in contributions incorporated into the National Development Plan by modifying the tax base for the calculation, plus an additional contribution to finance the Entrepreneurial Fund,” according to Celsia.

In Colombia, 3Q 2020 revenues represented 89% of the total with Central America accounting for the other 11%. In the same quarter, Colombia contributed 80.6% of consolidated EBITDA while Central America contributed the remaining 19.4%.

As for first nine months of 2020, adjusted EBITDA rose 21%, to COP$900 billion (US$239 million). Adjusted net income for nine-months 2020 was COP$252 billion (US$67 million), up 61%

“This profit reflects the results of the transformation in the company’s portfolio that allows improving the EBITDA margin and obtaining savings in non-operating expenses,” the company added.

Consolidated debt at the end of 3Q 2020 came-in at COP$4.42 trillion (US$1.17 billion), while the net debt-to-EBITDA leverage indicator was 3.26-times.


Medellin-based textile giant Fabricato announced November 3 in a filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera oversight agency that its third quarter (3Q) 2020 net loss came-in at COP$3.29 billion (US$861,000), a 75% improvement over the COP$13.27 billion (US$3.47 million) net loss in 3Q 2019.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to COP$6.7 billion (US$1.7 million), up from COP$3 billion (US$785,000) in 3Q 2019, while sales fell 26% year-on-year, to COP$78.9 billion (US$20.6 million), according to the company.

As for nine-months 2020, Fabricato has posted a net loss of COP$22.69 billion (US$5.9 million), a 42% improvement over the net loss for nine-months 2019, according to the company.

Commenting on the results, Fabricato observed that “Colombia began to go through a recovery path (in 3Q 2020) after the strong impact of the second quarter. This process will be slow and gradual and will be determined by the sectoral opening approved by the national and local governments.

“The months from July to September were characterized by staggered quarantines with different levels of openness that were increasing over the months, mainly with regard to trade.

“According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, the main obstacles faced by companies in the fashion sector were: 23% reduced sales, 12% higher prices of raw materials, 10% restrictions imposed by local authorities such as quarantines and 9% shortage of raw materials.

“Although the fashion industry has shown a slight reactivation compared to the previous quarter through strategies such as changes in the communication model of companies, restructuring of the commercial strategy, readjustment of the portfolio of products and services, financial restructuring and the increase in the share of sales in the e-commerce channel, they still continue at a low level compared to the same quarter of 2019.

“The 41% reduction in textile exports in the third quarter has an impact on business finances and production volumes. Tthe main reason for this drop was due to the closure of borders and the stimuli of each country to boost local consumption.”

Fabricato’s textile sales have benefitted from increased demand for garments for medical and hospital use.

Demand for fabric for military use and non-woven fibers “also played an important role in the basket of products sold,” the company added.

Improving Commercial Outlook

Since July 2020, “a positive trend in sales began to be seen, mainly in the bidding and institutional market segment,” according to Fabricato

“The month of August and September continued with a positive trend in sales including the export of 300,000 medical gowns to the United States,” the company added.


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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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