Trinidad and Tobago-based Agostini’s Limited reported a 10 per cent increase in profit before tax for the year ended September 30, 2020, with mixed results from its diverse business lines.
The company attributed the year-on-year growth to a high turnover of pharmaceuticals and rising demand for consumables — household products and food.
“Smith Robertson and its medical equipment subsidiary, Curis Technologies, both performed well in the year, exceeding their plan and prior year profit. In the case of Smith Robertson, this was partly due to increased demand for pharmaceuticals, in the private trade as well as increased purchases of pharmaceuticals by the Ministry of Health, as a result of the coronavirus,” chairman of the Agostini’s Limited board Christian Mouttet wrote in his report to shareholders.
“Conversely, we experienced a fall in sales of cosmetics and some personal
care items as the lockdown and the need for social distancing significantly reduced social activity,” the report continued.
The group’s other pharmaceutical subsidiary, SuperPharm, also witnessed an uptick in sales during the last six months of the financial period under review. Having anticipated the shifting needs of consumers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SuperPharm was able to respond by meeting the demand for vitamins, over-the-counter drugs, food, convenience items, and health and sanitising products.
As with the pharmaceutical division, Agostini’s consumer goods portfolio also recorded strong growth in sales across portfolio companies within the region.
“At Caribbean Distribution Partners, most of our companies performed well during 2020. Vemco and Hand Arnold in Trinidad and Tobago, Coreas Distribution in St Vincent, Independence Agencies in Grenada, and Desinco in Guyana all posted increased sales and profitability as demand for food
and household products remained strong during the crisis,” Mouttet also noted.
“Exports from Vemco remained strong, growing by 14 per cent and with
recent investments at our condiments plant,” he added.
Notwithstanding the performance of its pharmaceuticals and consumer goods divisions, Agostini’s also reported depressed sales in construction and that weakened prices in the global oil and gas industry impacting its LNG business.
“As an energy service company, Rosco Petroavance was able to continue its
operations uninterrupted during the crisis. However, with low LNG prices prevailing and the collapse in the price of oil in early 2020… there
was a sharp curtailment in expenditure of any kind in the energy sector, as companies focused on cash preservation,” report pointed out.
For the year ended September 30, 2020, the group’s revenue inched up approximately five per cent to TT$3.43 billion when compared to the previous year’s TT$3.27 billion.
At the same time, profit reached TT$239.6 million or 9.6 per cent more than TT$218.6 million reported at the end of 2019.
Given the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mouttet said that the company could only remain operational by “maintaining a strong balance sheet with adequate cash reserves”.
Total assets grew from TT$2.54 billion in 2019 to TT$2.7 billion as at September 30, 2020. Cash and cash equivalents jumped by 56 per cent, from $162.44 million in in 2019 to TT$253.24 million in the year under review.
In addition, Agostini’s reported that its acquisition of the assets from “Lightsource” been integrated into Agostini Building Solutions.
In its outlook for the financial year now in its first quarter, the group noted that it expects the after effects of the COVID-19 will be changes in the economies and industries in which it operates. However, Agostini commits to responding and managing the changes.