Fidson Healthcare Looks To Covert COVID-19 Challenges To Growth Opportunities
By CHUKWUMA KELECHUKWU, Lagos
Despite the shattered economies, business constraints, and weakened global markets occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic, Fidson Healthcare Plc, an indigenous pharmaceutical company, looks to convert the grave challenges posed by the situation to growth opportunities according to its chairman, Segun Adebanji.
At the company’s 21st annual general meeting in Lagos on Thursday, Adebanji assured millions of shareholders who attended the event virtually and by proxy that the Fidelis Ayabae-led management team will leverage the opportunities that COVID-19 pandemic provides to meet the needs and aspirations of Nigerian consumers of their products.
He assured shareholders that the managing director and his team are doing a great job in terms of increasing the volume of locally manufactured products that will be available to customers and consumers in the course of the year.
Adebanji was reacting to shareholders’ comments urging company management to explore opportunities for sourcing raw materials locally against the backdrop of importation challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown and increasing volatility of dollar exchange rate.
The National Coordinator and representative of the Progressive Shareholders Association, Boniface Okezie, as well as the Chairman of the Independent Shareholders Association (ISAN), Sunny Nwosu who was represented by Ibrude Moses, called on management to create a high tech research department that will focus on how to utilize local natural resources to manufacture orthodox drugs.
Responding, the chairman said: “The focus of this business in terms of local manufacture will actually put us in a very good position to be able to leverage the opportunities that COVID-19 provides to meet the needs and aspirations of our Nigerian consumers.
“So, be rest assured that the Managing Director and his team are doing a great job in terms of increasing the volume of locally manufactured products that will be available to our customers and consumers in the course of the year,” Adebanji told shareholders during the virtual event.
Despite acknowledging that the year 2020 is likely to be a very challenging year, the chairman told shareholders that management was looking forward to a better performance in 2020 on the back of 2019 recovery from loss position.
“The board is cautiously confident that given the commitment of the management team and the strategies they have shared with us, and the progress they have made so far in the first half of the year, we have every reason to believe they are going to contain the challenges for 2020. Therefore I look forward to good 2020 on the back of 2019,” the chairman said.
He noted that “the management team was able to improve the profit after tax (PAT) for 2019 by a whopping N450million. The credit goes to the MD and his team. On behalf of the board, I will like to commend them for a job well done,” said the chairman.
All the shareholders unanimously approved the N255million dividend proposed by the board of directors for the period ending December 31, 2019, translating to 15kobo per 50kobo share with 20kobo earnings per share.
Three directors whose tenure elapsed were also reelected including the board chairman, Segun Adebanji who was re-elected as a director and chairman of the board, Olugbenga Olayeye who was the sales and marketing director and Funmilayo O. Ayabae.
Similarly, shareholders’ representatives in the audit committee were also elected unopposed including Matthew Akinlade, Akinsanya Sunday Solomon, and Abdul-Kabiru Babatunde Sarunmi.
Commenting on his re-election to the board, the chairman thanked the entire shareholders for their vote of confidence and promised to continue to do the best they could to advance the course of the business in shareholders’ interest.
The healthcare firm rose from a loss in 2018 to a profit after tax of N312million for the year ended December 31, 2019. In the period under review, the company posted revenue of N14.062billion compared with N16.229billion in 2018.
The cost of sale was reduced from N9.910billion to N8.195billion, while administrative expenses fell from N2.614billion to N2.580billion. Similarly, selling and distribution expenses were reduced from N1.905billion to N1.446billion, making the company to end with an operating profit of N2.118 billion, up from N2.048 billion.
A 10 percent decline in the cost of finance from N1.925 billion to N1.716 billion, enhanced its bottom-line as the company recorded PAT of N312million in 2019, compared with a loss of N97.44 million in 2018.