The world economy in 2014 continued showing moderate growth. Global markets featured high volatility due to various economic and political factors, such as falling prices of raw materials and oil, the revaluation of the dollar, as well as international geopolitical tensions.
In 2014, various regional dynamics affected growth rates. As the United States showed signs of recovery, the Euro zone recorded signs of low performance; Japan reduced its expansion; and China continued to moderate its growth rate. Meanwhile, the slow evolution of developed economies impacted the emerging economies and, to a certain extent, the prices of raw materials. Moreover, falling oil prices benefited the advanced and energy-importing economies, negatively affecting the major exporting countries and contributing to the current weak demand through lower interest rates.
This global macroeconomic environment, coupled with expectations on monetary positions of world economies, mainly the United States, will produce adjustments to the investment portfolios, leading to the strengthening of the dollar against most currencies. As a consequence, this situation expanded the international financial volatility.
Economic activity in Mexico in 2014 showed moderate recovery against 2013, mainly due to an increase in external demand and, to a lesser extent, domestic demand. This scenario resulted in an annual growth of 2.1% in GDP, a rate that is still considered low.
At the close of 2014, prices of Brent and Mexican crude oil decreased 48% and 51%, respectively, in comparison with the closing prices of 2013. This adjustment will mainly affect public investment beginning in 2016, thus encouraging more private investment to take place. For 2015, the federal government has announced the introduction of preventive fiscal adjustments, with a zero-based budget to be implemented in 2016, which will allow a better qualitative improvement.
By taking advantage of the U.S. growth, low interest rates and favorable exchange rates, the Mexican market may further strengthen its exports and investments to accelerate economic activity, thus creating more and better jobs and promoting a dynamic domestic consumption. Also, the abundant availability of low-cost, long-term financial resources might be used to encourage private investment participation in the generation of productive development projects.
In this global macroeconomic, low-growth environment, Grupo Carso recorded mixed results in its main business areas in 2014. This was a very important year from a strategic point of view for Grupo Carso, due to various events.
In April, we announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer of Grupo Carso, S.A.B. de C.V., Mr. Antonio Gomez Garcia, who will continue to seek operating synergies and boost the activities of Carso Infraestructura y Construcción and Condumex, as well as maintain horizontal structures for agile decision making.
As of September 1, 2014 the share series A1 GCARSO became part of the Prices and Quotations Index of the Mexican Stock Exchange.
In order to participate in business opportunities in energy, we have grouped certain assets of Carso Energy, S.A. de C.V., a subsidiary which currently has an oil & gas division and other division with energy-related businesses. Carso Energy has initial assets of more than Ps.4,000 million and experienced human resources, through which we can take advantage of development opportunities in these important sectors.
Carso Energy, together with Energy Transfer Partners, LP and Mastec, Inc., heads the interest group which was awarded the construction and operation of the Texas-based pipeline Waha-Presidio and Waha-San Elizario, in the United States. We will continue to participate actively in the submission of bids in the energy sector.
The changes that occurred in the oil industry produced a significant decrease in the performance of the drilling service division of Carso Infraestructura y Construcción; however, the activity of our infrastructure, construction and installation of pipelines divisions was positive.
Another event that marked the year was the 60th anniversary of Grupo Condumex, which celebrated six decades of leadership and commitment to technological excellence in the different industrial sectors it serves, such as construction, energy, lighting, the automotive industry, and telecommunications. As part of this celebration, we launched Condumex ZER0H, the first high security, halogen-free cable in the world, a product developed by the Carso Center for Research and Development.
In the industrial area, although we were affected by a lower number of energy projects, we reorganized our businesses to increase productivity and maintain profit margins. Despite the decrease in revenues, profitability grew as the result of better, more efficient distribution channels. Moreover, we showed a significant strength in the telecommunications and automotive sectors and are very proud to mention that Arela, a subsidiary of Grupo Condumex specializing in the manufacture and marketing of automotive electrical harnesses, was awarded the “GM Supplier Quality Excellence Award” this year by General Motors, a recognition given to suppliers that demonstrate the highest level of quality and performance.
With regard to the commercial division, private consumption remained weak since the beginning of the year and we registered a growth of 1.7% in the total sales of Grupo Sanborns. We continued with the expansion plan in 2014 and opened 20 new stores – 3 Sears, 5 Sanborns and 12 iShops. At the end of the year, we were operating 430 units with over one million thirty thousand square meters of retail area, and two shopping centers. Moreover, we accelerated the remodeling works at 17 Sears and Sanborns stores, of which 11 were completed while the rest will be finished during the first quarter of this year.
The combination of the above-mentioned results in the three sectors led to a decrease of 4.1% in net sales of Grupo Carso to reach Ps.82,388 million. Operating income and EBITDA decreased 47% and 43%, respectively. These effects are explained by the recording of extraordinary income in the amount of Ps.7,589 million in 2013 related to the sale of our 20% interest in Philip Morris Mexico. Not considering the above, operating income and EBITDA would have been 6.1% and 4.5%, respectively. Operating margin was 11% and the EBITDA margin was 13%. Net income totaled Ps.5,685 million, while earnings per share were Ps.2.48.
The financial position of Grupo Carso remains strong. Total assets reached Ps.91,710 million, a 1.7% increase in the year, while liabilities decreased 9% to reach Ps.30,525 million. The consolidated shareholders’ equity was Ps.61,185 million, an 8% increase compared to the previous year. Debt decreased 13% to reach Ps.7,720 million and net debt was negative in the amount of Ps.6,370 million.
During May and October, 2014, Grupo Carso paid an ordinary cash dividend of Ps.0.80, which derived from the balance of the net tax profit account.
As for capital expenditures, resources amounted to Ps.3,115 million of which Ps.2,546 million corresponded to investments made for the opening of new stores and improvements carried out in Sears, Sanborns and iShop, which were works and projects considered in the expansion plan of Grupo Sanborns.
We believe that the financial structure of the Company is adequate for the various investment projects contemplated by our subsidiaries. We continue the remodeling and opening of Grupo Sanborns’ stores and continue consolidating retail concepts and new categories of products for consumers. In Carso Infraestructura y Construcción and Condumex, we continue working on synergies and best practices, such as investments undertaken in information technologies for the benefit of specific processes. Grupo Carso’s corporate and financial structure permits leveraging better growth opportunities and the continuous addition of value for our shareholders.
With regard to sustainability and social welfare, we are taking advantage of the Carlos Slim Foundation, an organization that aims to foster the integral development of human resources through programs that strengthen the skills and abilities of people of all ages in Mexico and Latin America. In the pursuit of that goal, we strive to help people succeed in their own economic and social development and achieve opportunities for a better quality of life.
Towards this purpose, the Carlos Slim Foundation participates jointly with private initiative, the three levels of government –federal, state and municipal– and society to meet educational, health, justice, human development, sports, environmental, cultural, humanitarian aid, and economic development goals. By accomplishing the foregoing, we benefit the largest possible number of people, as well as the most vulnerable groups.
We conducted a corporate campaign to disseminate the mission and our social responsibility policy. Similarly, our Code of Ethics was reviewed and updated in order to align it with the principles of the Global Pact.
Our social welfare program, which benefits a great number of employees from all sectors of the Group, was expanded for a better coverage. By means of actions carried out in favor of environmental protection, energy, water and paper consumption was reduced through savings and recycling programs. Grupo Sanborns continued donating food and hiring people with disabilities. On its own, Grupo Condumex reached energy savings through the replacement of engines, compressors and lighting, and continues to introduce innovative products like ZER0H, a safe and substances-free, high security cable in balance with nature, as previously mentioned. Finally, Carso Infraestructura y Construcción implemented protection plans and the rescue of flora and fauna as well as the reforestation and restoration of affected areas.
On behalf of the Board, I thank shareholders, customers and suppliers, as well as our workers and collaborators, and I invite all of you to continue helping Grupo Carso achieve its goals, improving performance and contributing to the development of our country.
Carlos Slim Domit
Chairman of the Board
The global macroeconomic environment has led to an adjustment of investment portfolios, which has strengthened the dollar against most of the world currencies.
Carso Energy’s assets now amount to more than Ps.4,000 million and it has the benefit of experienced human resources.
60th Anniversary of Condumex: Leadership and commitment to technological excellence in different industrial sectors.
Grupo Carso’s financial position remains strong with total assets of Ps.91,710 million and liabilities decreasing 9% to Ps.30,525 million.
As for sustainability, we expanded our Social Welfare program to benefit a larger number of employees in all sectors of the Group.