Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Caribbean Cement resumes exports to Cuba

Published:Friday | March 20, 2020 | 12:21 AM

C aribbean Cement Company Limited grew export sales threefold to markets that included Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but overall sales were flat.

Revenue for the group amounted to $17.76 billion, which represented an increase of 1.0 per cent year-on-year. The bulk of those sales, $17.57 billion, were made in Jamaica.

The lacklustre sales growth, plus a larger debt financing bill, saw the cement maker’s bottom line shrink from $2.47 billion, or $2.90 per share, to $1.88 billion, or $2.21 per share.

Exports remained a minor part of the operation, but the company sold $191 million of product abroad, compared to just $58 million the previous year.

It follows on the company’s pledge to resume exports, which halted in 2018 when the company was focusing on meeting rising demand in its home market.

In 2018, “while there were exports to Guantánamo Bay” overall exports of cement declined as the company focused on the local market demand, according to Caribbean Cement’s annual report.

During 2019, the company said it exported $100.2 million worth of product to a “North American country”, compared to zero sales to that jurisdiction the previous year. Those sales appear to have been executed through parent company Cemex. Its exports to the Caribbean totalled $91.6 million, up from $58.4 million the previous year.

The 2019 report did not name Guantánamo Bay, but a cement company representative told the Financial Gleaner that Caribbean Cement resumed exports to that area, and that those sales would have positively impacted on total exports. Guantánamo Bay, which is located on the southeastern tip of Cuba, contains a US Naval Base and detention camp.

Carib Cement previously announced that it wanted to restart exports to The Bahamas, Bermuda, Grenada, and other unnamed countries in the Caribbean.

During the financial year, the plant operated more efficiently, with earnings from operations totalling $4.25 billion, compared to $4.16 billion a year earlier. The gains were swallowed, however, by higher finance costs totalling $881 million and losses from foreign currency of $640 million. Roughly two-thirds of Caribbean Cement’s $9.15-million debt is denominated in US currency.

The company owes $6.07 billion to parent Cemex Espana and $3.07 billion to National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com