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Universal reports steady year

31 May 2018. Leaf merchant Universal Corporation reported a steady fiscal year 2018 and said it expects higher total sales volumes from the next crop cycle, the company said reporting its annual results.

Universal’s net income for the 12 months ended 31 March 2018 was USD 105.7 million (EUR 90.3 million), down fractionally on the USD 106.3 million net income reported for fiscal year 2017. Operating income for the period was USD 171.8 million, down on the USD 178.351 million reported for the previous year.

Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of the company, George C. Freeman, III, said the company was pleased with its good results for the year, despite lamina volumes having been modestly lower, and a drop in operating income.

Freeman said, “Fiscal year 2018 was not without its challenges as fewer carryover crop sales and shipment delays in North America, African burley crop sizes that were down more than 40 per cent over the prior year, and a USD 10 million reduction in income from the timing of receipt of distributions of unconsolidated subsidiaries compared to the prior fiscal year, negatively impacted our results.”

Universal was able to benefit from a return to higher volumes in Brazil, Freeman said.

"The next crop cycle, which will be reflected in our fiscal year 2019 results, has begun with green tobacco purchases in Brazil. Farmer deliveries there are a little slower this year, but the crop quality is very good. We are also seeing the recovery of African burley production volumes and improved North American shipments, and if the global leaf market remains stable, we expect higher total sales volumes for fiscal year 2019,” Freeman said.