Higher prices boost Gruma profit in quarter

by Eric Schroeder
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MONTERREY, MEXICO — Gruma S.A.B. de C.V. posted majority net income of 267 million pesos ($20.6 million) in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, up 73% from 154 million pesos in the same period in fiscal 2011.

Sales totaled 16,226 million pesos ($1,251.9 million), up 7% from 15,222 million pesos in the same period a year ago. The gain was driven by price increases across most of the company’s subsidiaries and sales volume growth. Gruma Corp. and, to a lesser extent, Gruma Venezuela and Molinera de Mexico, made the greatest contribution to the rise in sales, the company said.

Operating income at Gruma Corp. totaled 362 million pesos ($27.9 million), up 91% from 190 million pesos in the third quarter of fiscal 2011. Net sales totaled 6,733 million pesos ($519.6 million), up 9% from 6,153 million pesos a year ago. Sales volume at Gruma Corp. increased 11%.

Gruma said the gain in sales volume was due mainly to organic growth in the European corn milling operations in connection with new and increased customer accounts, and the acquisition made during 2011 in Turkey.

“Sales volume was also driven by the U.S. operations, with outperformance in the corn flour business,” Gruma said. “In addition, the tortilla operations registered volume growth, mainly driven by increased business in the food service segment among certain large distributors, and as a result of the acquisition made during August 2011.”

Cost of sales as a percentage of net sales at Gruma improved to 64.9% from 63.7%, driven largely by the U.S. tortilla business in connection with higher raw material costs and a change in the sales mix toward food service products.

Operating income at GIMSA totaled 451 million pesos ($34.8 million), up 24% from 363 million pesos in the same period a year ago. Net sales totaled 4,308 million pesos ($332.5 million), down 1%. Sales volume at GIMSA was up narrowly, to 492,000 tonnes from 490,000 tonnes, due mainly to higher sales of non-corn flour products as higher grain prices have motivated consumption of byproducts for animal feed, the company said.

Gruma said its capital expenditure program totaled $47 million during the third quarter, most of which was applied to the U.S. operations for technology upgrades and capacity expansions at existing plants, as well as for the construction of a tortilla plant in Florida that is expected to be completed by the end of November. To a lesser extent, Gruma also invested in capacity expansions and technology upgrades in the remaining regions, particularly in Europe and Mexico.

Earlier this week, Decatur, Ill.-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. said it reached a preliminary deal to sell its 23% stake in Gruma to the chairman of Mexican airport operator Asur, Fernando Chico Pardo. Gruma has a market capitalization of $1.8 billion, which would put the value of ADM’s holdings at about $418 million. Gruma is the world’s largest producer and marketer of corn flour and tortillas with operations in Mexico, the United States, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

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