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Written by May 18 2018 0

Medellin-based e-commerce, logistics, warehouse, document security, billing and customer-communications specialist Cadena announced May 17 that its full-year 2017 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 40% year-on-year, with EBITDA margin at 13.4%.

Sales also rose to COP$184 billion (US$63 million), while billings for innovative services rose 22% year-on-year, according to the company.

Cadena credited the EBITDA improvement to the launch of innovative digital products and services last year -- and it expects further net growth this year of around 12%.

Besides aiming to transform its businesses via “100% technology,” Cadena also is reorganizing its business units into four divisions, plus opening two new logistics/distribution centers this year -- in addition to the four existing centers -- which will enable deliveries to all municipalities in Colombia.

“Since we launched our company more than 30 years ago, we had never imagined that we were going to convert ourselves into a completely digital operation,” added Cadena president Juan Manuel del Corral.

“We have evolved from having 100% of our sales via paper products, to the situation today where more than 60% of our sales come from digital services and logistics,” he added.

Thanks to this digital conversion, 22% of all billings in 2017 came from new businesses, which enabled Cadena to occupy strategic market niches as well as add 14 new products, according to the company.

Cadena now has 1,800 employees, four logistics plants, a network of 594 vendors, and a technology infrastructure that enables analysis of more than 2 billion data items each month for more than 740 private and public-sector clients, according to the company.

“With the development of e-commerce platforms, Cadena will become one of the biggest providers of this service and a major ally of the business sector of Colombia,” according to the company.

Among Cadena’s big corporate clients: Une, DirectTV, Telefonica, Tigo, Comcel, ETB, EPM, Emcali, Comfenalco, Comfama, Colsubisido, Carrefour, Exito, Proteccion, Porvenir, Colseguros, Colpatria, Santander, Sudameris, BBVA, Banco de Bogota, Grupo Bancolombia, Coomeva, Metro de Medellin, Nutresa, Sura, ICETEX, ICFES, Copa Airlines, Argos, Postobon, Imusa, Grupo Familia, Hewlett-Packard, Invesa, Procter & Gamble, Camara de Commercio de Medellin, Banco de Occidente, AV Villas, Davivienda, Citibank, Helm Bank and HSBC.

Written by May 18 2018 0

Medellin-based insurance, pensions and finance giant Grupo Sura announced May 15 that its first quarter (1Q) 2018 consolidated profit fell 23.5% year-on-year, to COP$310 billion (US$108.5 million).

Consolidated revenues for the company also dropped 2.2% year-on-year, to COP$4.76 trillion (US$1.66 billion).

Despite the corporate-wide dip in revenues and profits, “positive performance of Suramericana’s and Sura Asset Management's operations partly offset the impact of market volatility on the yields of the investments,” according to the company.

“This external effect was reflected in lower yields for the company’s own investment portfolios that back up the insurance and pensions business, and was also a sharp contrast to this indicator’s positive performance a year ago."

Those investment yields fell by 47% year-on-year, to COP$253 billion (US$88.7 million), according to the company.

“In addition, Suramericana’s decision not to participate in the pension D&S [disability and survivorship] insurance business in Colombia to focus on other solutions more aligned with its strategies also led to lower consolidated revenue,” according to Sura.

Nevertheless, Suramericana enjoyed consolidated revenue growth of 3.6 % year-on-year, hitting COP$3.36 trillion (US$1.17 billion). Suramericana also saw 2.8 % growth in retained premiums, “due significantly to the performance in Chile and Mexico, and the positive dynamics of the health operations in Colombia,” according to Sura.

“This growth came together with a lower claims rate and higher efficiencies, which translated into underwriting profits that improved 31% [year-on-year] compared to the first quarter of 2017.”

Meanwhile, the Sura Asset Management division – which administers pensions, savings, and investments – saw a 6% increase in revenue from commissions in the mandatory-pension business and an even-better 9.7% revenue boost in the voluntary-pension business.

In that division, 82% of its managed pension funds had returns that were “higher than the average for the markets where they operate,” according to Sura. As a result, that division closed 1Q 2018 with COP$393 trillion (US$141 billion) in managed assets, covering 19.2 million clients.

Liabilities decreased by 2.8%, to COP$41.58 trillion (US$14.95 billion), thanks to a reduction of COP$201.9 billion (US$69 million) in financial liabilities. “The behavior of assets and liabilities was reflected in a 4.2% reduction in equity, to COP$25 trillion (US$9 billion),” according to the company.

Written by May 17 2018 0

Medellin-based highway and buildings construction specialist Construcciones El Condor announced this month that its first quarter (1Q) 2018 net profits plunged 86% year-on-year, to COP$17.3 billion (US$5.9 million), down from COP$124 billion (US$43 million) in 1Q 2017.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) likewise fell sharply, to COP$34 billion (US$11.7 million), from COP$165 billion (US$57 million) in 1Q 2017.

However, construction EBITDA improved year-on-year, from COP$34 billion (US$11.7 million) in 1Q 2018 versus COP$13.7 billion (US$4.7 million) in 1Q 2017. Gross income likewise improved by 15.3% year-on-year, to COP$269.7 billion (US$93 million), up from COP$234 billion (US$81 million) in 1Q 2017.

Construction backlog is now equivalent to three years of contracts – although dipping year-on-year by COP$198 billion (US$68 million) in 1Q 2018, to COP$2.2 trillion (US$761 million), the company explained.

El Condor continues to make progress on key projects including the “Concession La Pintada” in Antioquia, now 38% complete, including the “Mulatos” tunnel and pilings for the new bridge crossing the Cauca river at the town of La Pintada.

Likewise, the “Tunel del Oriente” tunnels linking Medellin to the Jose Maria Cordoba international aiport at Rionegro are now more than 77% complete, with El Condor having invested more than COP$519 billion (US$179 million) in the project to-date, according to the company.

Written by May 16 2018 0

Medellin-based multinational retail giant Grupo Exito announced May 15 that its first quarter (1Q) 2018 net profits rose year-on-year to COP$9.98 billion (US$3.5 million), up COP$17.5 billion (US$6 million) from the COP$7.6 million (US$2,600) net loss posted in 1Q 2017.

Operating income also rose 6.3% year-on-year, to COP$13.7 trillion (US$4.78 billion), the company reported.

Recurring earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 7.2% year-on-year, to COP$693 billion (US$242 million), excluding the impact of a 4% appreciation of the Colombian peso during the period.

Among 1Q 2018 highlights: a 25% growth in wholesale sales by Exito’s “Grupo Pão de Açúcar” (GPA) division in Brazil, which includes stores under the “Assaí” brand name. Exito added 21 new stores in Brazil over the past year, boosting customer-count by 12%.

“The solid growth of 7.5% in sales in local currency in the food segment allowed GPA to assume the leadership of that business in Brazil, accompanied by a satisfactory level of profitability, with a recurring EBITDA of COP$502 billion [US$175 million] and an increase of 12.6% in Colombian pesos,” according to Exito.

“This figure is even more important if one takes into account that in Brazil, deflation of food [prices] in households during the first quarter was 4%, which directly impacts sales.”

As for the Colombian home market, retail sales are showing a “gradual” recovery from recession last year, up a tiny 0.1%, according to Exito. However, e-commerce and home-delivery sales in Colombia are showing relatively strong growth, up 34.8% year-on-year.

Recurring EBITDA in Colombia came-in at COP$107 billion (US$37 million) with an EBITDA margin of 4%, the result of relatively low inflation which impacts sales results.

“Complementary” businesses in Colombia including the “Éxito” credit-card business, the “Seguros Éxito” insurance business, the “Viajes Éxito” travel business, a money-transfer-service business, and the commercial real-estate business collectively grew by a total 31.2%, according to Exito.

In addition, its alliance with the “Rappi” home-delivery service resulted in a 300% jump in deliveries year-on-year in Colombia.

The “cash and carry” format offered at its growing “Surtimayorista” chain in Colombia now operates through nine stores, with sales up 138% year-on-year. “Stores converted to the ‘Surtimayorista’ brand have multiplied sales nearly twice and units [of products] sold have grown 74%. In 2018 the company plans to open at least eight more” of the warehouse-type stores, according to Exito.

Meanwhile, “the real estate business continues to be dynamic thanks to a good level of occupation of its shopping centers and galleries. The ‘Viva Envigado’ and ‘Viva Tunja’ shopping centers under construction have scheduled openings for the second half of 2018 and the construction works are progressing by 77% and 64%, respectively,” according to Exito.

Corporate-wide synergies between Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina store operations are seen likely to deliver US$120 million in contribution to EBITDA for full-year 2018, according to Exito.

“Thanks to the implementation of the Colombian textile model in 61 points of sale in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, through our Didetexco division, we have become the ninth-biggest exporter of textiles from Colombia,” Exito added.

Meanwhile, in Uruguay, Exito store sales rose 8.5% year-on-year as measured in local currency, helped by summer-season demand, improvement in textile sales and the “Fresh Market” format, according to the company.

In Argentina, Éxito continues to benefit from its comercial real-estate business, with about 170,000 square meters of rentable space, the company added.

Éxito now has 1,554 retail food stores, including 561 in Colombia, 878 in Brasil, 86 in Uruguay and 29 in Argentina, according to the company.

Written by May 16 2018 0

Medellin-based electric power, cement, construction and highway/airport concessionaire Grupo Argos announced May 15 that its first quarter (1Q) 2018 net profits jumped 53% year-on-year, to COP$210 billion (US$73 million).

Consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 9% year-on-year, to COP$941 billion (US$328 million), while EBITDA margin hit 28%, 272 basis points higher than in 1Q 2017.

The latest results “include stability of consolidated revenues of COP$3.3 trillion [US$1.1 billion] and growth in all other areas, reaching an operating profit of COP$607 billion [US$211 million], 23% more than in the same period of 2017, the result of the operational efficiencies in all its businesses,” according to Argos.

“Three significant advances are highlighted: First, in the process of deepening our investment in the [highway/airport] concessions business, the Odinsa delisting from the Colombian Stock Exchange was carried out, which will allow the subsidiary to have a more flexible and attractive capital structure. for the global market.

“Secondly, the simplification and strengthening of the capital structure of the energy business was completed, with the issuance of Celsia shares and the sale of the shares in [power producer] Epsa, which leaves an increasingly clear portfolio for the market.

“Finally, Cementos Argos' disinvestment plan continued with two important operations: the sale at the beginning of the year of 13 concrete-block plants in the U.S. [netting Argos US$50 million] and the divestment of three self-generating power plants in Colombia for US$58 million.”

“Our portfolio profitability strategy has given us very good results for our shareholders since, for the third consecutive quarter, all our businesses delivered positive contributions,” added Grupo Argos president Jorge Mario Velásquez.

Revenue and EBITDA gains in the latest quarter “are mainly explained by the sale of the shares of [Colombia power producer] Epsa, which generated a non-recurring income of COP$655 billion [US$228 million]. If we exclude the effects of this operation, revenues show an increase of 10% and a 23% increase in EBITDA,” the company added.

Odinsa Results

During the latest quarter, “an arbitration award in favor of Odinsa stands out -- in the case of the [highway] concession of the Autopistas del Café -- which, in addition to us maintaining the administration [of the concession] until 2027, confirms the good performance of the company. Likewise, the private initiative for the new Cartagena airport was presented, with estimated investments of more than US$600 million,” according to Argos.

As for its Bogota international airport concession, “it is worth noting the increase in passengers at the El Dorado airport, from 7.6 million to 7.9 million, and the stable behavior of daily vehicular traffic of 75,100 vehicles, very similar to the 75,400 recorded in the same period of 2017. These operating results have allowed Odinsa to have revenues of COP$184 billion [US$64 million], 1% more than in the first quarter of last year,” the company added.

Cementos Argos Results

“During the first three months of this year, Cementos Argos announced the use of tires as an alternative fuel source at the Cartagena [cement] plant. The efficiencies achieved by the ‘BEST’ program have allowed to reach an EBITDA of COP$371 billion [US$129 million], 31% more than in the same quarter of the previous year, and the improvement of the EBITDA margin in all the regional areas, to achieve a 19% margin,” according to Argos.

Celsia Results

In the Celsia energy division, “a positive balance included the start of the operation of the Yumbo solar [photovoltaic] farm. With respect to [over-all power plant] results, the company reached an EBITDA of COP$290 billion [US$101 million], 20% more than in the same period of the previous year, and an EBITDA margin of 34%. These results were achieved thanks to the increase in generation by 18%, and by 11% in power sales,” according to Argos.

Real Estate, Pactia Results

During 1Q 2018, the Grupo Argos urban-development division accumulated property deeds totaling 90,000 square meters, and the division realized revenues of COP$10 billion (US$3.5 million) from the sale of lots. “In addition, in the [commercial] real-estate rental business, we highlight the positive results of Pactia which closed the quarter with assets under management of COP$3.4 trillion [US$1.18 billion], and a gross leasable area of 719,000 square meters, growing 40% year-on-year,” according to Argos.

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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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