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Archive for the ‘Brazil’s Economy’ Category

JBSJBS spreads its wings
By Cluck, moo, oink, ka-ching – The Economist

UNLESS you work with quadrupeds, it may have escaped your notice that a Brazilian company, JBS, is about to become the world’s largest
processor of meat. Its recent acquisition of Pilgrim’s Pride, a big
chicken processor in America and Mexico, and a pending merger with
Bertin, another Brazilian firm, will soon give it bigger sales than
Tyson Foods, the American firm that currently claims the top spot.
Other Brazilian names–Vale in mining, Embraer in aviation, Petrobras
in oil–may be more famous. But JBS is now the second-largest
private-sector company in Brazil by sales, after Vale. And a large
majority of its sales come from outside the country.

This is a stunning transformation for a business that began life in
Goias state 56 years ago with a slaughterhouse that could butcher just
five cattle a day. Its founder, Jose Batista Sobrinho, used to carry
sides of beef on his back to market, according to a friend. The
expanded firm will slaughter more than 140,000 animals a day and employ 129,000 people. Mr Batista’s three sons still control and run the
company, although 49% of it is publicly traded.

The mixture of family control and rapid expansion is unusual in
Brazilian agriculture. Many cattle-ranchers operate in the informal
economy and lots of slaughterhouses do not pay taxes, making the
industry difficult to consolidate. As in other parts of the world,
family-run agricultural firms in Brazil tend to focus on keeping things
intact for the next generation rather than betting the farm.

JBS has behaved differently, bringing in professional management and
expanding through ambitious acquisitions from an early stage. Some say
the company has been too aggressive. It was fined 15m reais ($8.4m) in 2007 for anti-competitive behaviour by Brazil’s antitrust regulator,
although it recently improved its image by agreeing to forgo buying
cows raised on deforested land.

GADOAn international shopping spree has brought the company big operations in Argentina, Italy, Mexico, America and Australia. But none of the company’s previous buys compares in size to its purchase in 2007 of Swift, the third-biggest processor of beef and pork in America and the biggest processor of beef in Australia. With it came a lesson in the politicking that can hamper big foreign acquisitions.

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund lobbied against JBS before the antitrust committee of America’s Senate, warning of price-gouging of farmers and anti-competitive behaviour, and got a sympathetic hearing. But in the end American regulators approved JBS’s purchase of Swift, just as they approved the Pilgrim’s Pride transaction in mid-October.

Part of the resistance to JBS in America has come from the
distinctively Brazilian way in which the firm is financed. Brazil’s
national development bank, BNDES, has a mandate to promote the
international expansion of Brazilian companies, among other things. It
is funded by a compulsory levy paid by companies and public-sector
bodies on each worker they employ. BNDES bought 13% of JBS’s stock in 2007 as part of a capital-raising that allowed it to buy Swift. It also
provides long-term loans to the company. One way around the
public-relations problem this creates is to buy struggling companies
like Pilgrim’s Pride, which JBS is rescuing from bankruptcy.

A far bigger problem for JBS is how to integrate all its new operations
into a coherent beast. This will be a big test for the Batista brothers
and for Brazil’s tropical brand of capitalism, which mixes family
control with traded stock, and finance from state-run banks with
foreign acquisitions. Brazilian companies in other industries are
watching how JBS gets on and plotting similar moves themselves.

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brazil_getty_136521s1Times are tough, so is it worth emigrating? Kate Hughes looks at possible exit strategies

Brazil has an immature and developing market and isn’t exposed to the kind of debts that developed Western countries have suffered from.
The interest on your savings is minuscule, your pension pot has been hammered, and the value of your house is plunging. You might be made redundant – and, to cap it all, we’ve had the coldest winter in 30 years. In short, life in Britain isn’t looking great. This may be a worldwide wipeout, too, but there could be a few safer, if not entirely safe, havens to run to with what’s left of your wealth.
“Very few places have not been affected by the downturn,” says Oliver Watson, regional managing director of international recruitment consultant Michael Page. “But if you are looking for an overseas opportunity, look for a sound gross domestic product [GDP, a country’s input and output] and an economy linked to natural resources. Brazil won’t see stellar growth over the next year, but it should be steady. It has an immature and developing market and isn’t exposed to the kind of debts that developed Western countries have suffered from.”
So far, Brazil has weathered the downturn better than most, but low demand for its exportable products means that the South American country will not escape unscathed. The most up-to-date GDP figures show continued strong growth, but they only go to the end of September last year, and business confidence in Brazil is at a six-year low. Brazil’s economy is taking a hit, but the downturn here may be less severe.

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From Reuters (Tais Fuoco)

* Q4 net income jumps to 215.5 mln reais vs 26.2 mln

* 2008 profit 389.7 million reais vs loss 99.8 mln

* Sees Brazil’s wireless market continuing to expand

* Seen “a small growth” in January

Brazil’s largest mobile phone company Vivo Participacoes (VIVO4.SA)(VIV.N) said on Friday its fourth-quarter profit surged nearly ten-fold because of a sharp increase in new users and as it kept costs in check.

The company’s chief executive Roberto Lima said the profit surge in the fourth quarter was due to changes in its subscriber and pre-paid telephony offers and “very rigorous” cost controls, as it renegotiated contracts with suppliers.

Vivo, a joint venture of Portugal Telecom (PTC.LS) and Spain’s Telefonica (TEF.MC), said net income rose to 215.5 million reais ($94.1 million) from 26.2 million reais in the fourth-quarter of 2007.

For all of 2008, Vivo made a profit of 389.7 million reais, the best year since the company was formed in 2003, compared with losses of 99.8 million reais in 2007.

“Vivo had a few illnesses in its infancy but today it’s growth is healthy,” Lima said in an interview with Reuters.

Vivo added 2.668 million new mobile phone users in the fourth-quarter, bringing its total user base at the end of 2008 to 44.95 million people.

The jump in new wireless clients helped boost sales by 14 percent to 4.27 billion reais in the fourth quarter, Vivo said. Sales for all of 2008 totalled 15.8 billion reais.

Lima said the company’s growth could slow in 2009 but he believed Brazil’s wireless market would continue to expand.

“This is a sector that has been growing in the double digits since its creation. Even if it grows 10 percent, it’s still a fantastic rate,” he said, pointing out that any growth achieved was on the basis of an already large customer base.

He said the company had seen “a small growth” in January this year over the first month of 2008.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 43 percent to 1.39 billion reais from 978.9 million in the final quarter of 2007.

EBITDA as a percentage of sales, a measure of profitability widely followed by analysts, jumped 6.6 percentage points to 32.7 percent in the fourth-quarter.

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The global financial crisis is not expected to lead to a major economic downturn in Brazil, a new study has concluded. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), prospects for the South American country remain favourable in comparison with many other countries.

Indeed, the OECD’s composite leading indicators showed that the nation had experienced a decline of just 2.9 points in the last year. This compares with 7.6 points in the euro area and 8.7 points in the United States. The figures were based on various measures of economic activity, such as output in the industrial sector.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian central bank has polled 100 economists in an attempt to determine the likely rate of growth in 2009, Bloomberg reports. Respondents to the survey predicted on average that the economy would expand by two per cent this year.

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Lula’s last lap


EPA

REPEATS are often disappointing. It is rare indeed to find a president in his second term with an approval rating of 80%, as Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva now enjoys. No American president since the second world war has managed it. In Latin America, only Colombia’s Álvaro Uribe at the height of his success last year against the FARC guerrillas has touched a similar level of adoration. So Lula, a pragmatic former trade-union leader, is entering his penultimate year in office in a position in which he ought to be able to do almost anything.

Yet this apparent omnipotence is illusory, not least because it will be brief: by early 2010 the president will start to be overshadowed by the campaign to elect his successor. He is also constrained by his own left-wing Workers’ Party (PT); by his political allies; by the economic troubles that only recently reached Brazil’s shores and have yet to be felt to their full extent; and by his temperamental compulsion to preserve his popularity. “I would not like to be called a populist,” he sometimes says, “but I do like to be popular.” (From The Economist)

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Brazil’s Embraer, fourth largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, has announced it is doing really well in spite of the crisis. Associated Press has reported the company delivered 204 jet planes last year, a 21 percent increase over the 169 jets delivered to buyers a year earlier.

The jet maker also announced it has $20.9 billion in firm orders for its planes as of Dec. 31. In 2008, the company delivered 162 midsize jets used for regional routes, 36 executive jets and six jets for military and government customers.

Embraer was Brazil’s largest exporter from 1999 to 2001 and the second largest in 2002, 2003 and 2004. It currently employs more than 23,509 people, 87.7% based in Brazil.

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The Brazilian govervenment has celebrated today as the country’s GDP has grown to 1.8 percent in the third quarter from the second. These are further signs that the South American country is resisting the global recession.

According to the official statistics agency, IBGE, the expansion of the gross domestic product was faster than the 1.6 percent expansion in the second quarter from the first.

The announcement comes against pessimistic forecasts that saw GDP growing 1.2 percent in the third quarter. Previous estimates were between 0.4 percent to 1.4 percent growth.

According to Forbes NY: “On an annual basis, GDP expanded a robust 6.8 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2007 , after posting a revised year-on-year growth of 6.2 percent in the second quarter. The result was stronger than the the 5.6 percent year-on-year GDP median growth forecast in the Reuters poll. Estimates ranged from 4.2 percent to 6.0 percent.”

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