Coronavirus batters Universal Robina, profit down 32% in Q1 2020

Ralf Rivas
Coronavirus batters Universal Robina, profit down 32% in Q1 2020
Universal Robina Corporation starts off strong, but the coronavirus crisis disrupts its growth trajectory in the 1st quarter of 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Universal Robina Corporation (URC) saw its earnings drop by 32% in the 1st quarter of the year, mainly due to non-operating foreign exchange losses along with the coronavirus pandemic.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday, April 29, URC said it ended the 1st quarter with a sharp dip in its net income to P2.1 billion.

Net sales came in at P33.5 billion, while operating income stood at P4 billion, both slightly higher by 0.4%.

The Gokongwei-led food and beverage conglomerate said strong January and February performance helped cushion the economic impact of the enhanced community quarantine implemented since mid-March.

“We started 2020 well, continuing our strong results in 2019 with good sales and profit growth in many of our divisions and geographies. However, as we closed the 1st quarter in March, our growth momentum was impacted by COVID-19-related disruptions,” said Irwin Lee, URC president and chief executive officer.

Sales of domestic and international branded consumer foods contributed P25.7 billion. Domestic revenues increased by 3% as snacks and noodles drove growth for the quarter.

However, international revenues declined by 2% due to a weaker market in Indochina and the negative impact of foreign exchange devaluations in international currencies.

URC’s sales in its agro-industrial and commodities businesses climbed by 9% to P7.8 billion. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Saving the economy from a pandemic)

With the lockdown extension and the global economy adjusting to an uncertain “new normal,” Lee said URC’s operating model is “evolving.”

“We are fortunate to be in the food industry and in a better situation than other companies amidst this crisis. With a strong balance sheet and healthy cash position, we can weather these short-term challenges and emerge even stronger,” Lee said. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.