By Peter Egwuatu
Having overcome the challenges posed by the operating environment, shareholders of May and Baker Nigeria Plc on Tuesday commended the Board of Directors for declaring a dividend of N280 million for the financial year ended December 31, 2008.
The shareholders at the companyâ€™s 58th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos praised its management and board for the results being approved.
The trio of Sir Sunny Nwosu, National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Chief Timothy Adesiyan, President, Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA) and Boniface Okezie that spoke the minds of shareholders said, â€œDespite the challenges of the period under review our company is paying 40 kobo dividend per share, even though it was the same amount we got preceding year. But it is better going home with something than nothing. There are a lot of challenges that the manufacturing companies are going through so we commend May & Baker for surviving all storms.â€
â€œWe also commend the diversification effort of the company which yielded good results despite the downturn in the economy. The new venture into foods is well commended because virtually everybody needs food to surviveâ€.
Nevertheless, the shareholders scolded the management for the rising debt profile as well as the loans obtained from the bank saying â€œ Short term funds should not be used to finance long term projectâ€.
While addressing shareholders at the meeting, Chairman of May and Baker Nigeria Plc, Lt. Gen . Theophilus .Y . Danjuma commended shareholders for their support, loyalty and understanding of the companyâ€™s plight and promising to continuously do everything possible to enhance their value.
He said despite the challenges of 2008, the company recorded 41 per cent increase in turnover from N3.9 billion in 2007 to N5.4 billion in 2008 and a profit before tax of N708 million.Â Profit After Tax (PAT) increase to N418 million from N208.3 million in 2007, representing 101 per cent increase
The Chairman disclosed that the companyâ€™s new venture into foods market has started yielding fruits as it added to gross turnover. Specifically, from a figure of N1.2 billion in 2007, the food business earned a total of N2.129 billion in 2008, representing a 79.64 per cent.
Continuing, Danjuma said, â€œWe are investing heavily in research and development to improve our products portfolio. In short while we shall launch new products in other aspects of healthcare and substantially increase our product offerings. We have also introduced a new variant of Mimee noodles, the family pack. The report so far show that the product is doing well in the market.â€
On the future outlook, May and Baker Chairman stressed that in the years ahead, the company will continue to grow its business with investments in all profitable areas of the economy that support its mission.
According to him, â€œIn particular we shall seek expansion projects that take us closer to the people while ensuring that our history of quality manufacturing is maintained. The new vision of the company to become one of the top 10 conglomerates in Nigeria by 2020 will be pursued with vigour.â€