US company Corn Products International, Inc. has reported total net sales for the first quarter of 2002 were $432 million (€486 million), down five per cent from $454 million in the same three months last year, but up one per cent excluding the impact of weaker currencies.
The company reported a gross profit of $58.8 million for the quarter. Share values fell to $0.31 per share for the quarter ended March 31, 2002, down from $0.36 per share last year, which the company claims is partially offset by a restructuring charge.
Corn Products recorded an $8 million pretax gain from the February 2002 sale of its US enzyme facility and incurred a $3 million pretax restructuring charge associated with further workforce reductions in North America.
The results reflect a small drop in the company's home market sales, down two per cent to $276 million, as well as more significant losses in the South and Central American markets.
"Our ongoing priority is to improve North American profitability," said Sam Scott, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "During the first quarter, we reduced our North American workforce by an additional 200 people. We expect an immediate payback from these actions."
The quarter's results also reflect a significant impact from the Mexican government's imposition of a confiscatory tax on soft drinks using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). However, on March 5, 2002, the Mexican government temporarily suspended the tax until September 30, 2002, which the company hopes will allow sales to grow again.
Scott also believes that the reduction in overheads will help to drive both sales and profitability upwards for the rest of the year, based on the fact that debts have already been reduced by $83million in the past 12 months.