In North America and Europe, family businesses have been posting annual and fourth quarter results of varying fortunes. Bel Group and AB InBev are on the up, while things weren’t as bright for two Canadian family businesses.
French dairy group Bel, controlled by the Fievet family, has posted solid results in its fourth quarter, as well as some encouraging initial results for 2012 overall.
On 28 February, the group, which makes internationally recognised brands including Laughing Cow, Babybel and Leerdammer, reported a 4.8% increase in consolidated sales for 2012 – taking it to €2.6 billion.
In its fourth quarter, the group generated consolidated sales of €688 million, up 2.7% overall compared to 2011’s equivalent three-month period. That growth was largely due to strong sales momentum in Africa: a 21.6% increase on last year’s quarter.
Florida-based MasTec, the construction and telecommunications company run by the Mas Family, has reported its third consecutive year of record financial results.
For the year ended 31 December 2012, revenue was $3.7 billion (€2.83 billion), compared to $2.8 billion for 2011 – a 32% increase.
Revenue for the fourth quarter was up 27% to $932 million, compared with $732 million in 2011.
Second-generation Jose Mas, MasTec's chief executive, said of his company’s strong performance in 2012: "It was validation of our long-term strategic plan and current market positioning. The business mix that we have developed over the last five years combines enormous stability with a wide range of growth opportunities.
“We are starting the year with record levels of backlog and we are well positioned in growing markets, especially oil and gas, electrical transmission and wireless."
In Brussels, family-controlled Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, saw steady growth in 2012. Revenues grew 7.2% in 2012 to $39.75 billion in 2012, the company said on 27 February.
Fourth quarterly revenues were up 8.8% to $10.28 billion.
The company attributed the strong performance to favourable brand mix and revenue management initiatives. Notably, AB InBev’s volumes also grew in the US for the first time since 2008.
Canadian food company Maple Leaf, controlled by the McCain family, reported mixed results for 2012 on 26 February – the company saw a large increase in profits despite a drop in revenues.
Sales for the year were Can$4.86 billion, down from Can$4.89 in 2012. But net earnings increased 40.5% to Can$122.7 million.
For the fourth quarter the company’s net income also saw a massive increase: from Can$9.2 million (€7.07 million) in 2011 to Can$56.8 million in 2012.
Second-generation family member Michael McCain, president and chief executive of the company, said: "The effects of food inflation driven by the North American droughts of 2012 will be felt mostly in the first half of 2013. As a result, we expect some short-term volatility in our earnings as we pass those cost increases on in the marketplace."
He added: "We are very pleased with our results for the fourth quarter and 2012 in total. They reflect steady, ongoing progress in realising earnings growth towards our financial targets."
Meanwhile fellow Canadian Bombardier – the train and plane-maker run by the eponymous family – continued to falter following gloomy quarterly reports throughout the year. Revenues for the year ended 31 December 2012 were $16.8 billion (12.89 billion), compared to $18.3 billion last year.
Results for the fourth quarter were more encouraging: revenues totalled $4.8 billion, compared to $4.3 billion for the corresponding period last fiscal year.
“Our results for 2012 are not reflective of our potential,” said family member Pierre Beaudoin, the president and chief executive. “After proving our resilience throughout the economic crisis, today Bombardier is at a turning point.”
He added: “These are exciting times at Bombardier and we’re on the cusp of seeing significant revenue growth.”