Morning business news - March 13

Wednesday 13 March 2013 10.49
Morning business news with Brian Finn
Morning business news with Brian Finn

GLANBIA RESULTS FOR 2012 BEAT EXPECTATIONS - Food and nutritionals group Glanbia has reported revenues of €2.88 billion on a constant currency basis for 2012, up nearly 5%. The company reported a 14% growth in adjusted earnings per share to just under 53 cent. Glanbia underwent a transformation here in the past few months with the creation of Glanbia Ingredients Ireland - a joint venture between Glanbia Plc and the Co-op.

John Moloney, Glanbia Group's Managing Director, says 2012 was an historic year in terms of corporate development for the company. He says the joint venture would start the construction of a large site for the expansion of milk processing. Global nutritionals is the biggest element of the group's business at this point and that division saw the biggest growth last year. "We've a big US cheese business, which provides the raw material going into our nutritionals business, of which we've three. Overall that grouping grew by 20%. In our largest nutritional business - sports nutrition - revenues were up 20%,'' Mr Moloney says.

The abolition of milk quotas in 2015 will be directly relevant to the new Co-op joint venture, the Glanbia chief says. "It's preparing for a 60% expansion in milk output by 2020. That will drive significant value-add around the southeast economy as the milk begins to flow and the output is exported globally." Glanbia is guiding between 8 -10% growth in earnings per share for 2013. "The group is well capitalised to execute against that growth," Mr Moloney says.

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ESB RAISED OVER €1 BILLION IN NEW BOND ISSUES LAST YEAR - The ESB has reported after tax profits of €194m for 2012. The state owned energy company raised over €1 billion in new bond issues over the year and it says its cost savings plan is on target.

Speaking after the publication of the group's annual report and results today, its chief financial officer Donal Flynn says the company had set itself an ambitious target of removing 25% from the controllable cost base. "That's €280m in recurring annual savings. That programme is on track. We've more than €200m of those savings secured," Donal Flynn states. The company reported revenues up €330m to €3.3 billion. After tax profits of €194m were achieved of which a dividend to the state of €74m will be paid.

Mr Flynn says that a total of €161m was set aside for 550 staff exits in 2012. "It's part of the overall cost reduction programme. For us to take 25% out of the cost base, those savings will come from three places,'' he says. Firstly, the company now has fewer people employed with around 1,000 people leaving the organisation since 2010. Another area is through lower pay rates with the average salary in the ESB down to €62,000 from €71,000 in 2009. The company has also seen significant non-payroll savings.

The energy provider says it is engaging with customers in difficulties paying their bills. "We carried out 7,000 disconnections in 2012. That's down 30% from the height in 2010. 10% of our customers are in arrears at any point. 290,000 customers are on payment plans,'' Mr Flynn says. He says that the ESB is the lowest of all suppliers in terms of disconnections, with only 0.5% of its customers disconnected. Mr Flynn also says the ESB - which raised over €1 billion through a bond issue last year - had no plans to return to the markets in the first half of the year, but would take a look at the market in the second half of the year.

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MORNING BRIEFS - The National Treasury Management Agency has signalled a return to the bond markets with a 10 year bond offering, possibly as early as today. It follows a number of successful auctions in the past few months - including a five year bond issue in January - as the country eases its way back into the markets in time for our planned exit from the troika bailout at the end of the year. The key question is how much we'd have to pay for that borrowing - the nearest comparable bond at the moment is one that matures in October 2020 at an interest rate of 3.7%.

*** The Government will outline plans today on a new initiative to tackle mortgage arrears. It is expected that repossession will be the last resort, particularly on primary residences so the plan may focus on investment properties in default. It is likely that they will set targets on restructuring of mortgages.