Coillte announces record earnings of €98.3 million in 2016

Coillte, which claims to be Ireland’s largest forestry and land solutions company, announced ‘record earnings’ of €98.3 million in 2016.

The company reportedly delivered record earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) last year – an increase of 10% on the previous year.

Operating cash-flow in 2016 amounted to €15.2 million, a jump of 130% on 2015 levels. Operating profit (before exceptional items and revaluation gains) increased by 6.6% last year to €64.4m, compared to the previous year, according to Coillte.

The company also earned a record revenue of €287.7 million last year, it added. In 2016, Coillte also carried out a ‘significant structural shift’ in its cost base; it is hoped this will realise cost savings of €15 million per annum over the next two years.

Coillte also refinanced €260 million debt facilities with an existing bank consortium and the European Investment Bank, which it hopes will result in over €3 million in savings on interest costs every year.

In 2016, the company’s investment in the group capital expenditure programme equated to €59.7 million; this figure fell from €82.9 million in the previous year.

Coillte commissioned a new €59m Smartply manufacturing facility in Co. Kilkenny last year. The dividend paid to the state by Coillte reportedly increased by 24% to €6.2 million last year.

Considerable progress

Considerable progress towards achieving the company’s ‘ambitious financial and operational targets’ was made in 2016, according to Chief Executive of Coillte, Fergal Leamy.

“A key focus of our new strategy is to grow operating cash-flows so that we can increase the return to our shareholders.

In 2016 operating cash increased significantly to €15.2m from €6.5m in 2015. Historically, operating cash has been negative or breakeven.

“The significant growth in operating cash gives us further confidence that we can achieve our 5% cash yield target by 2020 and we have set ourselves the challenge of more than doubling operating cash-flows in the next two years.

“Focusing on our cost base has also been a key objective and we have made very good progress towards a structural shift, which will realise cost savings of the order of €15m per annum over the next two years.

“We are creating stronger businesses that will be more robust into the future,” Leamy said.

2016 was a significant year of progress, as Coillte implemented the second year of its transformation strategy to become the best forestry and land solutions company in Europe, he added.

Overview of 2016

During 2016, Coillte made a number of significant changes, which it hopes will be critical enablers to the future success of the business.

It appointed and embedded ‘strong leadership teams‘ across the group to drive the company’s new strategy.

Coillte also continued to invest strongly in forestry assets and in leading-edge technology across the group, that will aim to improve operational performance.

It also completed investments totaling €160 million alongside its partners in the first two wind farms in Raheenleagh, Co. Wicklow, and Sliabh Bawn, Co. Roscommon.

Coillte currently claims to manage a forest and land estate of over 440,000ha, which is equivalent to approximately 7% of the country’s land.

From this land, it operates three businesses; its core forestry business, alongside its wood panels manufacturing business and land solutions business.