Sweden-based vegetable fats firm Aarhuskarlshamn AB (AAK) has reported increased operating profit for the fourth quarter, although volumes were hit by hurricane Sandy in the fourth quarter.
AAK reported net sales of SEK4.2bn (about €488m) for the quarter ended December 31, down 6% compared to a year earlier. The company said the fall in sales was primarily due to hurricane Sandy, which led to the temporary closure of two of its US facilities, while lower raw material prices were offset by acquisitions, better product mix and a positive currency translation.
Operating profit adjusted for Sandy reached a record high SEK 292m (€33.9m) in the fourth quarter, up 10% from the prior year period. Operating profit after hurricane Sandy was up 2% to SEK271m (€31.7m).
Both the AAK plants in New Jersey that were affected by Sandy are now back in operation.
For the full year, sales were up 1% to SEK16.9bn (€1.96bn) and operating profit (adjusted for Sandy) was up 9% to SEK1bn (€116m).
Adjusted to take account of Sandy, the company’s increased Q4 profits were driven by a 46% rise in operating profit from its largest business area, Food Ingredients, which reached SEK220m (€25.5m) on a 6% increase in volume.
However, AAK’s Chocolate & Confectionery Fats segment continued to suffer, with a 5% decline in volumes during the quarter. Adjusted for Sandy, operating profit for the business division was SEK82m (€9.5m).
CEO and president Arne Frank said that the company was “prudently optimistic” for the future, based on its propositions to improve costs and product health profiles for its customers.
Frank said in a statement: “The impact on our industry from the more difficult general economy in Europe is, as we all know, really difficult to predict. …The main drivers are expected to be our strong Food Ingredients business and the expected recovery in our Chocolate & Confectionery Fats business.”
He added that he expected the Chocolate & Confectionery Fats segment to begin to recover in the first half of 2013, and “provided the cocoa butter price remains at the current more normal level it is expected to start improving significantly during the second half of 2013.”