CEO Matti Rihko told NutraIngredients the Q3 results were “extremely good news” and reflected strong performance from both the bulk agricultural commodity side of the business that included grains and oil (now branded Raisioagro), the value added ingredients like plant stanols and the branded offerings like Benecol and the Big Bear stable.
“The banks are happy,” Rihko said of the fact the company had officially become debt free so soon after the €95m Big Bear buy and posted its best ever quarter.
Q3 saw revenue jump 28% to €141.7m from €110m in Q3 2010, with earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) representing 7.5% of that figure compared to 5.7% in Q3 2010.
Rihko said the company had eyed other acquisition targets but was wary of abusing its healthy financial state.
“We do have the ability to make more deals because our financial situation is better than it was,” he said. “There are pother targets in truth but it is harder to find good companies that pay a decent multiple on revenue. That is the trick.”
Benecol, the branded cholesterol lowring, plant stanol range of foods whose sales have been flat for some years, had delivered an “ordinary, good level” Rihko said in a statement but told this publication:
“The performance of Benecol is is good in key markets like the UK. Sales have been going up and we have been winning market share but for newer markets like the US, unfortunately it is very slow.”
“We have to face that fact that it takes a long time. But we continue to push hard and expect that someday these markets will be open.”
He said he was not surprised the European Union health claim approvals linking plant stanols and sterols and cholesterol reduction had not provided more of a market boost as such benefits were always going to be more long term.
The company said it was pleased that its results had not been affected by the Eurozone financial uncertainty.
Big Bear's brand portfolio includes Fox's confectionary, Harvest Cheweee, Honey Monster, Honey Waffles and Sugar Puffs.