• June 15, 2024

Universal Income Up

 Universal Income Up
Photo: Taco Tuinstra

Universal Corp. reported sales and other operating revenue of $2.75 billion in fiscal year 2024, up 7 percent over that recorded in 2023. Operating income grew 23 percent to $222 million. The company’s tobacco operations contributed sales and operating revenues of $2.44 billion, $180.5 million more than in 2023.

“Universal Corp. had a positive finish to a strong fiscal year 2024 with notable financial and operational performance in both the fiscal year and quarter ended March 31, 2024,” said chairman, President and CEO George C. Freeman III in a statement.

“Fiscal year 2024 was an exceptional year for our tobacco business, as a favorable product mix, strong customer demand and the sale of larger crops in Africa, compared to fiscal year 2023, drove our strong operating results. Fiscal year 2024 was also a significant building year for our ingredients business.”

While expecting leaf tobacco supply and demand to return to a more balanced position over time, Freeman said tobacco supply remains tight and green tobacco prices elevated. “We continue to leverage our diverse global footprint and financial flexibility to manage these conditions and to execute our tobacco strategies,” he said.

“For example, during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024 and into the first quarter of fiscal year 2025, we accelerated buying in Brazil to ensure access to the tobacco we need for our customers [also see “The Great Scramble,” Tobacco Reporter, May 2024].

“This accelerated buying, combined with higher green tobacco prices, resulted in increased use of working capital and higher debt levels at March 31, 2024. We expect most of the net impact on working capital from our accelerated buying strategy to naturally unwind over the next two years.”