Mon, Mar 31, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Uni-President posts better annual earnings last year

CROSS-STRAIT CASH CRUNCH:The conglomerate’s Chinese unit took a tumble in profit last year and soured the food and beverage giant’s bottom line

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Uni-President Enterprises Co (統一企業) on Friday reported a net income of NT$12.76 billion (US$417.6 million) for last year, beating the previous year’s earnings, but failing to meet market estimates.

Analysts said the company’s weaker-than-expected earnings for last year were caused by its food manufacturing arm in China, Uni-President China Holdings Ltd (UPCH, 統一中國控股), which reported its first net loss in the final quarter of last year since its Hong Kong listing in 2007.

Uni-President Enterprise, the nation’s largest food and beverage conglomerate, said in a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange that last year’s figure was 29.26 percent higher than the NT$9.88 billion recorded in 2012, with earnings per share increasing to NT$2.48 from NT$1.91 the previous year.

Consolidated revenue rose 4.19 percent to NT$423.06 billion last year from NT$406.05 billion the year before, while gross margin fell to 30.93 percent from 30.96 percent over the same period, the filing said.

Earlier this month, Uni-President China reported a net profit of 342 million yuan (US$55.05 million) for the second half of last year, which was 41 percent lower than the first half and 3 percent less than a year ago.

Excluding the one-time investment gain of about HK$367 million (US$47.3 million) from disposing of Want Want China Holdings Ltd (中國旺旺控股) shares in the third quarter, Uni-President China’s recurring profit for the second half of last year tumbled by 85 percent annually and was 86 percent lower than in the first half.

This led the Hong Kong-listed firm to report a net loss of 40 million yuan in the fourth quarter last year. As Uni-President Enterprise holds a 70.5 percent stake in its Chinese operations, the falling profitability of the unit weighed on the parent company’s bottom line last year, analyst said.

2013 earnings report

‧ Net income: NT$12.76 billion

‧ Earnings per share: NT$2.48

‧ Consolidated revenue: NT$423.06 billion

‧ Gross margin dropped to 30.93 percent

Uni-President Enterprise’s “earnings miss was mostly attributable to the UPCH loss,” Yuanta Securities Co (元大證券) analyst Bonnie Chang (張文慧) said in a client note on Friday.

The brokerage said that Uni-President China’s net loss for the fourth quarter of last year was far worse than its forecast of a net profit of 95 million yuan.

The conglomerate also includes retail and distribution units, as well as trading and financial services providers, with President Chain Store Corp (統一超商) its other major earnings source.

Earlier in the week, President Chain, the operator of 7-Eleven stores in Taiwan, reported that its net profit for last year increased 35.86 percent to NT$8.04 billion from the previous year, while Ton Yi Industrial Corp (統一實業), a tin plate and tin can manufacturing unit of the conglomerate, also saw its net profit hit NT$1.26 billion last year, an annual jump of 383 percent.

On Friday, Uni-President Enterprise’s board also approved a proposal to distribute a cash dividend of NT$1.5 per share and a stock dividend of 6 percent per share, which await shareholders’ vote at the company’s annual general meeting on June 24.

Uni-President Enterprise shares rose 0.58 percent to NT$52 in Taipei trading on Friday.

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