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Down 90% - JPS leads the way as corporate profits slide
23 May 2012

Down 90% - JPS leads the way as corporate profits slide

PUBLICLY listed companies reported mixed performance during the first three months of 2012.

The overwhelming majority to have posted results so far managed to get better revenues than in the first three months in 2011.

But almost half of the 28 companies examined by the Jamaica Observershowed a decline in profit.

The upshot being lower combined profit across the group of businesses.

Collectively, they posted a combined $9.8 billion in

pre-tax profit compared to $11.8 billion during the comparative period the year before, though that was largely as a result of few major players experiencing large drops in profit.

Chief among them was the Jamaica Public Service Company, which, being the sole distributor of electricity, is at the centre of business activity in Jamaica. It reported profit before tax of US$1.7 million ($147 million) for the review period compared to US$17.1 million during the same period last year.

Significantly higher fuel cost — US$206.2 million, up from US$166.7 million in the first quarter of 2011, due to higher international oil prices was the main contributor to the decline for the light and

power company.

National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCB) also reported a significant decline in profit — from $3.9 billion to $2.7 billion.

The bank attributed most of the profit fall to an increase in expenses related to bad debt. It incurred $1.2 billion in provision for credit losses during the first three months of 2012, compared to $55.4

million in the comparative period in 2011.

The first quarter of this

year was a mixed bag for financial institutions.

Apart from NCB, Capital and Credit Financial Group, GraceKennedy's (GK's) banking and investment arm, which operates under the First Global brand, and Pan Caribbean Financial Services showed declines in profit.

On the other hand, Barita Investments and Mayberry Investments both showed growth at the bottom line, while Mayberry's associate company Access Financial Services posted higher profits.

The financial institutions which saw declines mostly had difficulty growing their core business — net income from interest — but they also saw expenses rise. Insurers fared better.

General Accident and Lascelles deMercado's insurance arm, which operates Globe Insurance, posted higher profits in the automotive, property and casualty side of the insurance business, while life and health insurer Sagicor Life Jamaica also reported higher earnings.

GK's insurance arm,

which operates Jamaica International Insurance Company (JIIC), reported a decline in pre-tax profit.

GK's food business had a strong quarter having seen 19 per cent growth in its profit.

Other food groups also offered up conflicting results.

Honey Bun's profit declined while the maker of Kraft snacks, Seprod, posted higher profits. Similarly, Jamaican Teas experienced a decline while Salada saw better results at its bottom line.

Lascelles' profit sweetened from its sugar, liquor, wine, and rum business, while local brewer Red Stripe saw its profit jump from $182 million during the first three months of 2011 to $404 million during the review period.

Activity at the seaports sometimes reflect the overall state of the economy, particularly as it relates to domestic demand.

Kingston Wharves Limited earned slightly higher revenues during the period under review, though a smaller port operations in Montego Bay, Cargo Handlers Limited, showed less revenue during the quarter.

Both saw dramatic reduction in profits.

Cargo Handlers's pre-tax profit fell by 11 per cent to $16 million while Kingston Wharves, profit fell by 35 per cent to $102 million.

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