Universal Reports Flat 2022 Results

    Photo: Universal Corp.

    Universal Corp. reported sales and other operating revenue of $2.1 billion for fiscal 2022 compared with sales and other operating revenue of $1.98 billion in fiscal 2021. Reported operating income was $160.3 million, up 8 percent over that reported in 2021. The company’s tobacco operations contributed sales and other operating revenues of $1.84 billion in fiscal 2022, down slightly from the previous year.

    “I am proud of our fiscal year 2022 results, which were generally comparable to those in fiscal year 2021,” said George C. Freeman III, chairman, president and CEO of Universal Corp., in a statement. “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, 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.

    We continue to see opportunities to increase market share and expand the supply chain services we provide our customers.

    George C. Freeman III, chairman, president and CEO, Universal Corp.

    “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 ye