The Board of Directors of the French sugar group Béghin-Say, chaired by Jérôme de Pelleport, met on 10 September 2001 to approve the consolidated financial statements for the six months ended 30 June 2001.
These interim statements are the first to be produced by Béghin-Say since the demerger of the Eridania Béghin-Say Group and the company's subsequent stock market listing on 2 July 2001.
Consolidated sales for the first half of 2001 were up 0.5 per cent compared with the same period of last year. Growth in France was led by an increase in selling prices, particularly in export markets where volumes were also higher than last year. However, this growth was offset by the impact of lower tabletop sugar volumes in Italy and a lag in volumes sold in Hungary, which should be made up in the second half.
Operating income declined by 6.1 per cent compared with first-half 2000, when it was significantly improved by the sharp recovery in world sugar prices and the subsequent write-back of a large part of the provisions taken against stocks of non-quota sugar at the end of 1999.
However, the French operation recorded a rise in operating income in first-half 2001, due to sales gains during the period and a decrease in production costs for the 2000/2001 campaign. Lower sales volumes dragged down operating income in Hungary as well as in Italy, where rising energy and other expenses drove an increase in production costs for the last campaign.
* Pre-tax income from continuing operations rises by 10.0 per cent. * Net income - Group share fell by 26.4 per cent compared with pro forma first-half 2000 to Euro27.9m, depressed by the decline in operating income coupled with high and non-recurring exceptional costs of Euro18.1m, compared with exceptional income of Euro1.0m in first-half 2001. However, the impact of these costs was partially offset by lower interest and tax charges.
· The debt-to-equity ratio stood at 1.87 at 30 June 2001 versus 1.92 at 30 June 2000.
In France, second-half results should continue to be driven by favourable market conditions. In Italy, high imports and energy costs will continue to depress operating performance in spite of the positive impact of restructuring measures now underway. In Hungary, the catch-up in volumes expected during the second half should generate satisfactory operating income for the full year.
All in all, full-year consolidated operating income should be good, similar to that of 2000 excluding the effect of world sugar prices.