Chris Ugwu writes that weak macro-economic environment and its multiplier effects on business operating environment is beginning to take tolls on profit margin of Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Plc.
ising costs and, in many cases, scarcity of key raw materials, which has continued to affect the operations of manufacturing companies with negative effect on their profit margins, have become a thorn in the flesh of most companies operating in Nigeria.
The trend, which is a reflective of the weak macro-economic environment, have had its multiplier effects on general liquidity within the system and investor appetite and also resulted in many companies experiencing declining purchasing power and competitive pressures leading to only minimal retail price increases, despite accelerating costs.
The consumer was significantly stretched as inflationary pressures weighed heavily on purchasing power, a trend leading to a drag on volume of sales.
Following headwinds such as weak demand on the back of a squeeze on household wallets, most industrial goods companies in Nigerian have continued to find it difficult to get out of the woods.
Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Plc, a subsidiary of UAC of Nigeria Plc., like others, have began to suffer in terms of earnings, as many state government and private companies struggled to meet obligations and had little to embark on infrastructure project that could utilise their products.
This is on the back of rising operational costs as a result of a severe dollar shortage that forced manufacturers to buy dollars from the inaccessible black market.
Market watchers also believe that for paint industry to survive, more is needed to be done in order to totally curb the problem of counterfeiting. Individual companies must also be able to come up with technological innovations that will help counter the activities of counterfeiters.
With the positive showing in 2017 and 2018 as regards growth in profit, analysts expected that Portland Paints will sustain its profit margin following the improvement in micro-economy, but the company has been struggling with rising cost of production brought on by scarcity/high cost of raw materials and high energy cost as cost of sales and distribution expenses has continued take tolls on earnings.
Notwithstanding the operational challenges, the market sentiments for the shares of the company has recorded considerable performance, reflecting the general trend in value of shares quoted on the floor of the Nigerian Stock market following low investors’ confidence, especially those companies that are performing optimally, to guarantee investors’ confidence.
The share price, which closed at N2.52 per share in November 2018, has decreased marginally in value that when the closing bell rang on Friday, the company’s share price also stood at N2.23, representing a drop of 29 kobo or 11.50 per cent year-to-date.
Portland Paints & Products Nigeria Plc., manufactures and sells a range of paints in Nigeria for the decorative, automotive, industrial, marine and protective coatings. The company also markets a range of cement, instant road repair materials and sells sanitary ware products for homes, hotels, schools and factories. Decorative paints are sold under the Sandtex brand name and this includes Sandtex Biocote, which is an anti-microbial paint used for hospitals, clinics, primary health centres, laboratories, hotels, restaurants, colleges, universities and industrial kitchens. The company sells a range of professional coatings under the Crown Trade brand name and marine/protective coatings under the Hempel brand name. Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Plc is a subsidiary of UAC of Nigeria Plc.
Despite the challenges within the economy, the company recorded a turnover of N2.83 billion as at 31 December 2018, which represents an increase of 22 per cent over 2017 and a proﬁt after tax of N206.693 million from N58.170 in 2017.
Profit before tax stood at N307.533 million in 2018 as against N123.868 million posted in 2017, representing an increase of 148.27 per cent.
Cost of sales increased by 8.21 per cent to N1.753 billion from N1.620 billion posted the previous year.
“Based on the performance, the Board has recommended a dividend of N39.67 million, representing five kobo for every 50 kobo ordinary share, to shareholders on the Register of Members at close of business on 6 May to 10 May 2019, for consideration and approval.”
The company began the 2019 on an impressive note with a report of 180.75 per cent growth in profit from continuing operation. The report obtained from NSE showed a profit of N66.392 million for the period ended March 2019 as against N23.648 million in 2018. Profit before tax equally grew by 180.75 per cent to N97.635 million in 2019 from N34.777 million a year earlier. Revenue grew by 24.56 per cent to N777.351 million from N624.101 million in 2018 while cost of sales stood at N479.574 million from N411.590 million posted in 2018.
However, hopes that the paint firm would sustain the tempo of profitability was dashed as it closed the half year ended June 30, 2019 on the decline as operating challenges began to take toll on the earnings.
The firm reported a 27.85 per cent decline in profit from continuing operations to N64.272 million in June 2019 from N89.078 million in 2018. Profit before tax equally dropped by 27.85 per cent from N130.998 million in 2018 to N94.518 million in 2019. Revenue declined by 5.23 per cent from N1.433 billion a year earlier to N1.358 billion in 2019 while cost of sales stood at N853.586 million in 2019 from N901.536 million in 2018.
Portland Paints recently said that it will consolidate and build on the gains achieved in 2018, especially in the execution of the route-to-market strategy as well as new business development initiatives.
The company’s Chairman, Mrs Esosa Balogun, at the company’s Annual General Meeting in Lagos, said: “We hope to sustain this trend and further improve on the performance of the company in 2019.”
She stated that the company would expand its footprints in the marine and protective coatings space in the Nigerian oil and gas sector.
Balogun noted that the year 2018 started with a challenging operating environment, but the company navigated the difficult business terrain by recovering its costs through cost reduction initiatives and improved efficiencies.
“Furthermore, bold moves were made in expanding customer base both in marine and protective coatings and Sandtex categories, engaging and improving relationships with industry professionals, as well as installing a Hempel mini equipment for local tinting of marine products range,” she added
According to her, Portland Paints will expand its footprints in the marine and protective coatings space of the Nigerian oil and gas sector to enhance profitability.
The Chairman, UAC, a parent company of Portland Paints, Mr Dan Agbor, while speaking at the company’s Annual General Meeting in Lagos, said: “We are encouraged by the initiatives implemented thus far but recognise that a significant amount of work lies ahead. It is important to mention that one of the key elements of the strategic plan of the management is for the company to operate as a much simpler and leaner holding company, with the main focus being on the subsidiary companies.”
He added that the company was strengthening and empowering the management and boards of subsidiary companies to drive value creation and increasing their accountability for delivering ambitious plans.
According to him, the company is carrying out a comprehensive review of its organisational structure to ensure increased autonomy and effectiveness of operating subsidiary companies.
Agbor assured shareholders that the company’s contributions to the industrialisation and economic, political and social development of the country in the last 140 years of existence would be sustained.
On the outlook for the business, Agbor explained that UAC had embarked on an aggressive talent acquisition drive, placing a priority on the executive management teams of its subsidiaries.
He said: “The appointment of Mr Folasope Aiyesimoju as the group managing director of the company with effect from April 1, 2019, signifies the company’s ambitions and the board’s determination to accelerate the process of change within the UAC group.
Following challenges in operating environment, the management of Portland Paints should proactively continue to work towards cost reduction and optimisation in all areas of its operations to ensure the survival of the business and its sustained value creation for stakeholders.
W’Bank secures $82bn to fight extreme poverty in Africa, others
A global coalition of development partners yesterday announced its commitment to maintain momentum in the fight against extreme poverty, with $82 billion for the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest.
A statement issued by World Bank Group President David Malpass, noted that the financing, which includes more than $53 billion for Africa, would help countries invest in the needs of their people, boost economic growth, and bolster resilience to climate shocks and natural disasters. Malpass said: “Today’s commitment by our partners is a strong sign of their support for the urgent mission to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in the poorest and most vulnerable countries. “We are grateful for their continued trust in IDA and its ability to deliver good development outcomes for people most in need.”
The World Bank stated that two thirds of the world’s poor—almost 500 million people—now live in countries supported by IDA, adding that the funding would allow IDA to: ”reinforce its support to job creation and economic transformation, good governance, and accountable institutions.” It further stated that the funding would also help countries deal with the challenges posed by climate change, gender inequality, and situations of fragility, conflict, and violence, including in the Sahel, the Lake Chad region, and the Horn of Africa.” The World Bank stated: “IDA will renew its support to facilitate growth and regional integration, including investments in quality infrastructure.
“The IDA Private Sector Window will continue enabling the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) to mobilise private sector investment in challenging environments, a critical component to meet the scale of financing needed in developing countries.”
It explained that the IDA’s resources were replenished every three years; adding that latest replenishment (the 19th) would cover the period from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2023. Specifically, the World Bank disclosed that the new funding would support projects that deliver life-changing results, including essential health, nutrition, and population services for up to 370 million people; safe childbirth for up to 80 million women through provision of skilled health personnel. In the same vein, it will enhance access to broadband internet for 50 to 60 million people; immunisations for up to 140 million children; better governance in up to 60 countries through improved statistical capacity and an additional 10 GW of renewable energy generation capacity. Also, in order to promote greater equity and economic growth, the IDA will also tackle broader development challenges, such as enhancing debt sustainability and transparency; harnessing and adapting to transformative digital payment technology.
Similarly, promoting inclusion of those living with disabilities; strengthening the rule of law; and investing in human capital, including efforts to achieve universal health coverage. “Along with these priority areas, IDA will sharpen its focus on crisis preparedness, resilience building, and supporting countries in their national climate-related action plans,” the bank said.
Be good ambassadors, Obaseki tells Nigerian Army applicants
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has appealed to youths in the state, who applied for the Nigerian Army recruitment, to be good ambassadors, urging them to avoid hard drugs, crime and other anti-social behaviours. The governor, who spoke when he visited Edo indigenes participating in a two-week screening exercise into the Nigerian Army, was represented by Head, Edojobs, Mrs Ukinebo Dare. Addressing the applicants, who are between the ages of 18 and 26 years at the Nigerian Army Cantonment, Ekehuan Barracks, venue for the screening exercise, the governor’s aide enjoined them to remain focused and determined as it will enhance their capacity to meaningfully contribute to the building of the state and nation.
Obaseki said: “We are proud of you and are looking forward to you being good ambassadors of Edo State during the six months training you will undergo after this screening exercise. “For those of you that will make it into the training school, we wish you all the best and we are looking forward that at the end of six months when you are graduating, we will come back to congratulate you for making Edo proud.” The governor’s aide disclosed that the Edo Innovation Hub was ready to organise entrepreneurial programmes to engage applicants who would not scale through the screening process.
She commended the collaboration that exists between the Edo State Government and the Nigerian Army. One of the Screening Officers, who spoke on con-dition of anonymity, said about 2,000 persons drawn from across the 18 Local Government Areas of Edo State, were shortlisted for the recruitment process into the Nigerian Army. He gave the two categories of applicants for the 79 Regular Recruits intake into the Nigerian Army as Non-trade and Tradesmen/ women.
Focus on multi-million dollars gas project at Ogidigben, Olu of Warri pleads with Buhari
The Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli, has pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to focus on the actualisation of the multibillion dollars Ogidigben gas project in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State. Ogiame Ikenwoli, who made the appeal while addressing thousands of Itsekiris and visitors during his fourth coronation anniversary at Ode-Itsekiri, (Big Warri) yesterday, said the gigantic project would engage Nigeria’s full priority, given the economic importance, such as job creation, and enhance economic potential.
“We believe that this should be one of President Buhari’s star projects and we will continue to plead with him for work to resume at the shortest possible time”, stressed the Warri monarch. He, however lauded Mr. President for giving approval and traction to the new Warri deep sea port, and the minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, for their joint action of making the project a reality. On the last general elections, the Olu lamented the losses by the Itsekiri nation, arising from mutual suspicion, greed, selfishness, narrow mindedness and unhealthy rivalry”, which he said left bitter experience within the Itsekiri nation.
“Needless to say that I am aware of all the horse trading that took place across party divides, driven mostly by these personal and very parochial considerations, as it stands today”, stressed the monarch amid loud ovation. He regretted that Itsekiri has come down from the position of four members at the state House of Assembly to mere two seats and blamed the setback on the action of politicians.
He reminded his people of Federal Government plans to have a national census and enjoined the people to make themselves available for the exercise, explaining that Warri South is the only few local government that the delineation is taking place.
Osun disburses N2bn to indigent citizens
… as govt launches programme to tackle unemployment
Osun State Government has launched Public Workfare and Special Grant Transfer programmes under the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO). It is aimed at providing immediate labour intensive work opportunities for indigent unskilled youths and provides life-sustaining assistance for the aged and persons with disabilities respectively in the state. Governor Adegboyega Oyetola at the launch in Osogbo yesterday, presented a cheque of over N2billion to 25,907 indigent and vulnerable citizens.
He disclosed that the programmes are in tandem with the administration’s resolve to improve on the state’s extant social investment policy and its vision to give adequate attention to the welfare of the aged and people with disabilities across the state.
He noted that the Public Workfare programme would not only enhance the capacity of participating unemployed youth but also create and improve basic social and economic infrastructure in the state. He added that the programme “has taken over 10,000 vulnerable youths away from roaming the streets and are participating in productive service and earning monthly stipends.”
The governor said that the Public Workfare will also increase the income and consumption capacities of young participants and their households, raise effective demand in local markets, and increase household assets ownership, savings, and investments.
“Since inception, the Public Workfare component of YESSO has resulted in increase in the income and consumption of the young participants and their households and more importantly, active participation of these selected unskilled and unemployed youths in this programme has reduced youth restiveness and other social vices in our society,” he added.
On the Special Grant Transfer, Oyetola said it was “due to our active performance in fighting the scourge of unemployment among our youths, the World Bank gave the state the opportunity to participate in Special Grant Transfer; a programme designed for persons with disabilities and the aged to avail them the opportunity for enhanced consumption and improved health system.” While commending the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for its efforts at reducing unemployment, especially among the youth through YESSO, Oyetola called on well-meaning Nigerians to join hands with government at all levels in the fight against unemployment in Nigeria so as to build a virile nation where peace and progress will thrive.
“As a front runner in Social Protection Policy and Practice in the country, the programme we are inaugurating today is just the beginning of the numerous social interventions we are engaging in to make life better for our people,” the governor declared. Earlier, the Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Special Needs, Lawal Azeez, commended the so-cial protection programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari and Oyetola. He lauded the efforts of the state government in taking the masses out of the scourge of poverty, hunger, unemployment and other societal vices.
In his remarks, the Head of Unit, Osun Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) Public Workfare and Special Grant Transfer, Mrs. Funmilayo Oladosu, enjoined the beneficiaries to be more active and productively invest their stipends so they can become better persons at the end of the programme. Also, the Osun YESSO Coordinator, Mr. Olabanji Hammed, applauded the efforts of the state government for always putting smile on the faces of the citizens regardless of their socioeconomic status. In their separate remarks, some of the beneficiaries commended the administration of Oyetola for prioritising the people’s welfare and for improving their standard of living in the state.
FG ready to solve your infrastructural, funding challenges, Fashola tells Surveying School Rector
In recognition of the series of infrastructural and funding challenges being faced by the management and students of the 111-year-old Federal School of Surveying, Oyo, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has promised Federal Government’s readiness to provide succour in order to make the Geoinformation and Mapping institution more relevant to the growth and development of the country.
The minister gave the exciting news during his speech as the Visitor to the institution at its 20th convocation ceremony where 10 sets of graduates from 2008 totalling 971, were awarded certificates of Ordinary Diploma (ND), Higher National Diploma (HND) and post HND degrees. In her address, the Rector of the institution, Surveyor (Dr.) Dupe Nihinlola Olayinka, an associate professor from the University of Lagos (UNILAG), who secured accreditation for all the courses being taught in the school within six months of her assumption of office, had complained that the school was lacking in funds and infrastructural facilities in spite of some giant strides she had made.
She had pleaded with the minister to include the school in TETFUND; “like other institutions to take care of the welfare of students and the staff, raising the budget ceiling from its current N450m to about N1.4bn demanded by the Procurement Unit; completion of new Administrative building for staff offices, among others.”
In his response, Fashola who was represented by Dr. Famous Eseduwo, with the Surveyor-General of the Federation and Chairman, Governing Council, S. A. Taiwo, in attendance, said that his ministry; “is aware of some of the challenges of the School such as infrastructure deficit, funding deficit, absence of TETFUND support, deficiencies in the enabling Act, under-funding and so on. We have started relating with the appropriate stakeholders towards finding lasting solutions to the identified challenges of the School.”
Court upholds Nsuke election as MOSOP President
A Rivers State High Court sitting in Nchia, Port Harcourt, has upheld the election of Fegalo Nsuke as the president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). The court presided by Hon Justice B. B Green struck out a suit seeking to upturn the election of Nsuke as MOSOP president following an affidavit of withdrawal from the complainants, Mr Gideon Amba, Chief Theophilus Dike and others.
Gideon Amba and Theophilus Dike, former Kingdom Coordinator of Eleme and former Financial Secretary of MOSOP respectfully, had approached the court to seek the extension of Legborsi Pyagbara’s tenure by one year. They also prayed the court to declare Nsuke’s election as invalid because the electoral committee, which conducted the elections, was set-up by the deputy president of MOSOP in the absence of the then president, Legborsi Pyagbara.
NLNG, JVs Train 7 project to create over 10,000 jobs
The Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) has sealed Gas Supply Agreements (GSA) for the supply of feedgas to Train 7, a move that would create over 10,000 new jobs and increase the country’s gas production capacity from 22 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) to around 30 MTPA. A statement signed and made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja by the NLNG General Manager, External Relations, Eyono Fatayi- Williams, NLNG noted that GSA’s entered into with Joint Ventures (JVs), signals the commencement of the project, which was expected to increase the company’s production by 35% and improve competitiveness in the global market upon completion. According to the NLNG, the Train 7 Project which was coming at the heels of the company’s 30th anniversary of incorporation and 20 years since exporting its first LNG cargo in 1999, was in line with its corporate vision of ”Helping to build a better Nigeria.” It further stated that the construction period after FID will last approximately between four to five years.
The statement reads in part: “The NLNG has signed the first Basic 20-year term of Gas Supply Agreements (GSAs) for NLNG Train 7 with Joint Ventures (JVs) for the supply of feedgas to Train 7, closing out another condition necessary for taking of the Final Investment Decision (FID).
“The Company also signed the second Basic 10-year term of GSAs for its Trains1, 2 and 3. The JVs are Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), Total Exploration & Production Nigeria (TEPNG) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC).
“The milestone is coming after the issuance of a Letter of Intent for the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract to SCD JV Consortium in September 2019 as well as the signing of the Nigeria Content (NC) plan with Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in March 2019. SCD JV Consortium is made up of Saipem of Italy, Japan’s Chiyoda and Daewoo of South Korea.
‘‘The Train 7 Project will ramp up NLNG’s production capacity from 22 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) to around 30 MTPA. The Project will form part of the investment of over US$10 billion including the upstream scope of the LNG value chain, thereby boosting the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) profile of Nigeria.
“The Project is anticipated to create over 10,000 new jobs during its construction phase, and on completion, help to further mop more gas that would have been flared, and diversify the revenue portfolio of the Federal Government and thus increase its tax base.” NLNG is owned by four Shareholders, namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49%), Shell Gas B.V. (25.6%), Total Gaz Electricite Holdings France (15%), and Eni International N.A. N. V. S.àr. l (10.4%).
Insecurity: Bandits now forcing farmers to part farmlands, SOKAPU alleges
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) yesterday alleged that bandits terrorising residents in the area are now forcing farmers to hand over some parts of their farm to herdsmen before they are allowed to harvest their crops. The union also condemns the recent attacks in the area, saying that five persons have lost their lives while others remain critically injured. Addressing a press conference yesterday in Kaduna, SOKAPU President, Mr. Jonathan Asake, said: “We have been told by wary and frightened villagers on the Kagoro-Gidan Waya flanks that they have been enduring severe suppression, molestation and extortion before they harvest their crops.
“Those who have farms far from their communities are forced to surrender parts of their crops to serve as fodders for herdsmen’s cows to graze. Failure to do so results in untold consequences.” Asake, who was flanked by other executives, also “condemn in very strong terms the unprovoked, underserved barbarity unleashed on Zunuruk community by evil men. We equally sympathize with the families of those that lost their loved ones and pray for the quick recovery of those that were injured.
“We believe that all our communities must be free, safe and secured for every resident of Southern Kaduna irrespective of tribe, religion, political or cultural affiliation.” While narrating how the attack that left five persons dead took place, the SOKAPU leader said: “About 6pm on December 8, an annual football tournament to foster peace and unity between three communities had just came to an end at the football field of LEA Primary School, Zunuruk – a peaceful, farming community of Oegorok natives, close to Kagoro town in Kaura LGA of Kaduna state.
He said: “By our independent findings, it was just when the last whistle was blown, signalling the end of the match around 6pm that the rattling of what sounded like gunshots was heard followed by torrents of bullets fired at the crowd, raising a gust of dust, confirming to spectators and players alike that the deafening sounds were not just some ‘knockouts’.
MultiChoice opens ultra-modern office in Ibadan
As part of its drive towards delivering value to customers and shaping its business to respond to customers’ needs, MultiChoice Nigeria, yesterday, commissioned an ultra-modern office in Ibadan, Oyo State. The state-of-the-art facility will provide services such as sales, product activations, hardware maintenance, swops, reconnections and general customer services.
Addressing guests at the commissioning ceremony, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun, said the state government was proud to associate with MultiChoice. The governor stated that the state is a conducive environment for tourism and other businesses.
He said: “We have over 100 tourism sites in the state and we urge corporate bodies like MultiChoice to help promote this industry in the state.” On his part, the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, reiterated that the people of Ibadan and Oyo State will continue to patronise MultiChoice products and services because they have affordable content that promotes the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba people.
NIS: Visa on arrival to facilitate regional integration
The Comptroller-General of Immigration (CGI) Mr. Muhammad Babandede, has said the planned visa on arrival at the point of entry, is part of Federal Government’s efforts at accelerating integration in Africa. In a statement yesterday by the spokesperson for the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), DCI Sunday James, the CGI noted that the policy, which would take effect in 2020, would remove barriers hitherto militating against free movement on the continent.
He also added that the beneficiaries would be holders of passports of African countries.James said: “The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service Muhammad Babandede directed that clarifications be made regarding Visa on Arrival at the point of Entry for holders of passports of African countries.
“Nigeria’s strategic decision is taken to bring down barriers that have hindered free movement of our people on the continent by introducing the visa at the point of Entry into Nigeria with effect from January 2020. “The Comptroller General of Immigration is assuring Nigerians of the service’s commitment to ensuring high level professional ethics in delivering the services without compromising national security.”
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