Despite this, however, the company is reporting an overall commendable 2018, after two previous years of disappointing performances.
In its annual report for last year, Chairman of the Board, Robert Bermudez, said overall the performance was admirable due mainly to “cost compression initiatives and the indirect procurement programme that was implemented in the year”.
While profits from operations in Trinidad and Tobago remained flat versus a 3% decline the prior year, profits from operations in Barbados declined by 7%, which Bermudez said was “largely driven by the slowdown of consumer spending that accompanied the government’s austerity measures”.
On the other hand, profits from Guyana grew by 10% as that country continued to hold out high hopes for its oil industry.
“Our operations in Colombia turned around the energy business there and nearly trebled the profits from the automotive business. We continue to see Guyana and Colombia as our most important geographic growth poles in the near term,” said Bermudez.
Stating that the group was on an “excellent trajectory” for future growth, he said this year the company would be enhancing its initiatives to communicate with shareholders, investors, analysts and brokers “to make sure that the efforts and progress of the Group are well communicated to those stakeholders who participate in trading the Group’s shares”.
In 2017, the Group suffered setbacks from the discontinued operations of Massy Communications and an investment in an IT services company in Costa Rica.
Chief Executive Officer, Gervase Warner, said last year the Group achieved a strong performance despite the recent “economic challenges” in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, which impacted Massy’s heritage companies in the automotive and retail sectors.
“The Group’s balance sheet remains strong. The debt-to-debt plus equity ratio reduced from 31% in 2017 to 30% in 2018. Cash flow from operating activities before tax was $971 million, and Group cash grew from $1.57 billion to $1.63 billion,” said Warner.
“The Group also incurred significant losses claims relating to three category five hurricanes that hit the Caribbean in the final two months of the 2017 financial year. In comparing the Group’s continuing operations from 2017 to 2018, profit before tax increased by 16%,” he said.
Officials said the Massy Group faced “an exciting future” with a strategy in place, adding that while there are still challenges to be met in economies like Barbados, there are significant opportunities to be explored in Guyana, Colombia and other Latam countries in the Caribbean Basin.