Business Irish

Wednesday 13 December 2017

This is two companies with one genius

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

THE more you look at Glanbia, the more you can see the genius of John Moloney.

The company produced a solid set of half-year results yesterday. Revenues increased 13pc to €1.7bn, while earnings per share jumped 11.3pc to 30.69c, and full-year guidance for EPS growth remains unchanged at 8-10pc. That's a good set of numbers, no matter what way you look at it.

Drill down into the figures, however, and there is now a clear sense that Glanbia is two very different companies, with very different fortunes under one group structure.

Almost all the growth came from the company's Ingredients & Global Nutritionals business.

In nutritionals, revenues grew 13.7pc, operating profit added 19.7pc, and operating margin – basically how much money Glanbia is making on the product it is selling – surged 50 basis points.

In the ingredients division, it was a similar story. Revenues and profits were up, even if margins were down more than had been expected at 90bps.

Now, compare that to the Dairy Ireland business.

Revenues rose 9.2pc, but earnings before interest, tax and appreciation slumped by nearly a quarter, while margins plummeted 140bps to a miniscule 3.2pc.

That margin is about a third of what Glanbia has in its Ingredients & Nutritionals sector.

This is where Mr Moloney's genius comes in.

He managed to get the low-margin, commoditised, milk business at least partially off the PLC's balance sheet last year when it was spun out into a joint venture with Glanbia Co-op.

This allowed him to focus relentlessly on the more profitable parts of the business – ingredients and nutritionals.

What's left of the Irish business is losing money and by doing the deal with the co-op, he has got rid of at least part of a business that will never be a lucrative one.

There is little doubt that if Glanbia could get out of the Dairy Ireland business altogether, it would. That is not realistic in the short term, but if the business keeps losing money, something will have to give.

Mr Moloney has proved Glanbia does not need an Irish consumer business. It will be up to incoming CEO Siobhan Talbot to decide if she wants to take on the co-op and pull the plug altogether.

Irish Independent

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