Universal reports annual results

Universal Corporation has released its 2022 results, saying that the results were generally comparable to those in fiscal year 2021.

Net income for the year ended 31 March 2022,was USD 86.6 million, compared with USD 87.4 million for the year ended 31 March 2021. Consolidated revenues increased by USD 120.2 million to USD 2.1 billion on the addition of the businesses acquired in the Ingredients Operations segment and lower tobacco sales volumes partially offset by higher average sales prices in the Tobacco Operations segment. Segment operating income for the Tobacco Operations segment decreased by USD 11.1 million to USD 157.8 million and by USD 9.0 million to USD 52.2 million, respectively, for the year and quarter ended 31 March 2022, compared to the same periods in fiscal year 2021. Tobacco Operations segment results declined largely due to tobacco shipment timing as well as some tobacco inventory write downs, partially offset by increased value-added services to customers.

George C. Freeman, III, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Corporation stated, "I am proud of our fiscal year 2022 results which were generally comparable to those in fiscal year 2021. During fiscal year 2022, we continued to face a very challenging logistical environment in many of our key tobacco regions. Strong performance from our Ingredients Operations segment offset some challenges that reduced results in our Tobacco Operations segment.

"Our plant–based ingredients platform is coming together nicely and is exceeding our expectations. With the acquisition of Shank's Extracts, LLC ("Shank's"), we are now positioned to offer our customers a broad range of products, from fruit and vegetable juices, concentrates, and dehydrated ingredients to botanical extracts and flavorings. In fiscal year 2022, the Ingredients Operations segment saw increased demand for organic-based products and continued strong volumes for human and pet food categories as well as for vanilla extracts.

"Ongoing shipping constraints reduced our Tobacco Operations segment results for the year and quarter ended March 31, 2022, as a result of continued limitations in worldwide shipping availability stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the logistical constraints in fiscal year 2021, we had carryover tobacco volumes which shipped in fiscal year 2022. Similar logistical constraints impacted fiscal year 2022 which led to an even larger amount of tobacco volumes, reflecting a difference of about $70 million in revenue, which did not ship in fiscal year 2022, compared to the carryover volumes from fiscal year 2021. Tobacco shipment volumes in fiscal year 2022 were also reduced due to smaller African burley crops.

"We experienced volatile tobacco and currency markets in Brazil during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022. Appreciation of the Brazilian currency coupled with strong demand for leaf tobacco led to unprecedented increases in green prices for leaf tobacco and earlier purchasing of the 2022 Brazilian crop, resulting in disruptions to market dynamics. To fulfill our customers' orders, leaf tobacco purchases from our contracted farmers this season have been at the prevailing inflated market price for all leaf tobacco regardless of the quality of leaf tobacco. This resulted in larger inventory write downs in the quarter ended March 31, 2022, compared to the prior year's fourth quarter.

"As we move into fiscal year 2023, we are seeing strong demand for our plant-based ingredients and tobacco products. We believe leaf tobacco supply for flue-cured, burley, dark air-cured, and oriental tobaccos to be in an undersupply position. At the same time, we continue to see opportunities to increase market share and expand the supply chain services we provide our customers. We expect continued logistical constraints as well as higher costs, particularly freight, raw materials, labor, fertilizer, and energy, in both our tobacco and ingredients businesses. We are actively working to mitigate these challenges, and I am confident that we can deliver another good year.
"We remain focused on returning value to our shareholders and promoting sustainability in our operations. We are extremely proud to deliver value to our shareholders though dividend increases such as our 52nd annual dividend increase announced today. Increasing our strong dividend remains one of the strategic priorities of our capital allocation strategy. We have also achieved some important milestones in our sustainability efforts in fiscal year 2022, notably releasing goals and targets around agricultural labor practices and environmental performance and publishing our 2021 Sustainability Report in December. We were also named a 2021 Supplier Engagement Leader by CDP, earning recognition for our work in engaging our suppliers on climate change. We look forward to attaining new achievements with our sustainability programs in fiscal year 2023."

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