GraceKennedy optimistic despite profit dip
At the end of December 2022, revenues for the GraceKennedy Group climbed to $142.9 billion while profit trimmed down to $7.5 billion.

A 15 per cent dip in yearly profits will not slow the momentum of the GraceKennedy (GK) Group as the company looks to reap greater results from its vision 2030 plan and move to become a global consumer group in the next few years.

According to Don Wehby, group chief executive officer (CEO), the company's operations, though adversely impacted by some existing challenges which were carried over into the last financial year, remains strong.

"GK's team is working assiduously to effectively navigate the headwinds our business has been facing in recent months. Rising inflation, an inconsistent supply chain, increasing interest rates and distribution costs, and geopolitical tensions and conflicts were all compounded by the movement of currencies in our main operating markets in 2022, and these factors negatively impacted our business' performance," he said in a company release following the release of the company's audited financials this week.

"We are optimistic, however, that the strategic approach we are taking to managing these challenges will produce positive results and improved stockholder value in 2023. Over 100 years, GK has laid a solid foundation for our company to become a global consumer group and our team is committed to our 2030 vision," he further stated.

Despite strong top line growth, which went up by approximately 10 per cent to total $143 billion, 12-month profits for the company fell to $7.5 billion, a billion less than that earned in 2021.

Labelling its 2022 delivery as a "mixed performance", the company said its food segment remains the strongest, adding the bulk of earnings — some $5.4 billion — followed by the money services division, which delivered a little above $4 billion. Out-turns across its banking and insurance segments were, however, not as strong; both contributing $739 million and $1.3 billion, respectively.

Total assets for the company up to the year end mark in December increased to $201 billion.

The 101-year-old company — which is looking to grow revenues outside of Jamaica to 70 per cent by 2030, list on an overseas stock exchange, roll out new products, penetrate new markets and pursue more acquisitions — remains committed to the achieving on all its targets.

"This year our theme at GK is 'Building a bright future together through great people. Our story continues.' and I continue to be excited about what lies ahead for our group," CEO Wehby said.

Serious about adding more value for shareholders, the company's board of directors in approving a share buy-back announced that this will be undertaken this year once the necessary regulatory approvals are granted.

"We are confident in our long-term strategy and believe that investing in our own company is the best use of capital and a good investment for long-term returns. The proposed share buy-back is being implemented because the company's share price is considered to be below its true value and is an opportunity to enhance shareholder value by helping to raise earnings per share," Wehby further said.

The release further advised that a four per cent increase in dividends at 50 cents per stock unit and valued at some $495 million will be paid to shareholders on April 6, 2023.

BY KELLARAY MILES Business reporter

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