Mexican bottling and retail company Femsa reported on February 2015 a 45 percent rise in its 2014 fourth-quarter profit, mostly due to higher gains from its stake in brewer Heineken.
The company, which co-owns Coke bottler Coca-Cola Femsa and operates the Oxxo chain of convenience stores, reported a profit of 7.254 billion pesos ($492 million USD), compared to 4.988 billion pesos in the year-earlier period.
Revenue was flat at 70.156 billion pesos, partly reflecting a negative foreign exchange impact from Coca-Cola Femsa’s business in Venezuela.
Femsa holds a 20 percent stake in one of the world’s biggest brewers, Heineken. Its profit from stakes in associated companies and joint ventures jumped 83 percent.
“FEMSA is a leading company that participates in the beverage industry through Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest franchise bottler of Coca-Cola products in the world; and in the beer industry, through its ownership of the second largest equity stake in Heineken, one of the world`s leading brewers with operations in over 70 countries.
In the retail industry it participates with FEMSA Comercio, operating various small-format chain stores, including OXXO, the largest and fastest-growing chain of stores in Latin America. All of which is supported by a Strategic Business unit.”
Chief Executive Carlos Salazar said that he was “cautiously optimistic” for 2015, particularly in its core Mexico market, despite headwinds from volatile exchange rates.
Femsa said it had decided to pursue an aggressive growth strategy in retail gasoline by buying gas station franchises of Mexican state oil company Pemex, which it said a sweeping energy reform finalized last year now allows it to do.
The reform gradually liberalizes the retail gasoline sector in Mexico, allowing the creation of gas stations without Pemex branding and the sale of gasoline not purchased from the country’s long-time monopoly supplier.
Femsa said it had agreed to acquire franchises for 227 gas stations where it already has Oxxo stores.
Its Oxxo chain, which began in Femsa’s home base in Monterrey in northern Mexico in the 1970s, grew almost 10 percent in 2014, bringing the total number of stores to 12,853.
Coca-Cola Femsa which took on heavy debt to finance a string of acquisitions in recent years, is struggling to adapt as consumers turn away from its sugary drinks and after Mexico last year slapped a tax on such beverages.
Femsa executives told analysts that capital expenditure for 2015 would reach around $1.35 billion pesos, with $850 million going to Coca-Cola Femsa.
Some analysts have noted that Femsa’s large cash pile, which at the end of 2014 stood at 35.641 billion pesos (approximately 2.3 billion USD), including equivalents, puts it in a good position to make acquisitions.
(Reporting by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein and Christine Murray Editing by W Simon and Nick Zieminski)
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