Universal Robina beats pandemic drought as earnings rise by 15% in 2020

Snack giant Universal Robina Corporation (URC) ended 2020 with a favorable bottom line, against the odds posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a disclosure to the local bourse on Tuesday, March 2, URC said its net income rose by 15% to P11.6 billion, due to "growth in operating income, lower debt and interest expenses, and lower foreign exchange losses."

"Better" cost management and favorable input prices, according to the Gokongwei-led firm, drove its operating income to grow 7% year-on-year to P16 billion despite expenses for brand building and COVID-19 initiatives.

Net sales, meanwhile, held up at P133.1 billion.

Its branded consumer food from the domestic market remained flat at P61.2 billion, as Filipinos bought snacks and noodles over ready-to-go products. Its international revenues, however, were 5% lower at P41.2 billion due to slower recovery in the Southeast Asian market.

URC makes and distributes popular snacks like Chippy and Chiz Curls, Nissin Cup Noodles, and Blend 45 coffee.

"Consumption of our products is not likely to dissipate; in fact, the relevance of our categories in consumers' lives potentially increases as we adjust to changing consumer and shopper trends. As we look to the future and the new normal, we remain well-positioned for the long term to delight everyone with good food choices," said URC president and chief executive officer Irwin Lee.

Its agro-industrial commodities and businesses ended 2020 with a 7% growth year-on-year to P29.6 billion.

Net debt, meanwhile, amounted to P22.1 billion which, the company said, is "close" to 2019 levels.

URC shares closed at P132.70 apiece, up by 2.79% on Tuesday. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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