Cork-maker Amorim's net profit falls as COVID-19 hits wine stopper sales

LISBON (Reuters) - The world’s largest cork products company, Corticeira Amorim, posted a 14% fall in net 2020 profit on Wednesday as the pandemic hit sales of its main wine stopper business and it booked one-off charges.

The Portuguese company, which netted 64 million euros last year, also warned its first quarter would be impacted by coronavirus restrictions while uncertainty about further economic fallout from the pandemic remained high.

“Over the remaining months of 2021 the evolution and scope of the ongoing vaccination process ... offset by the potential need to implement additional containment measures will determine the evolving impact of the pandemic on the global economy and consumption patterns,” it said in a statement.

Total sales fell 5% to 740 million euros in 2020 compared to the previous year, with the pandemic affecting all of the group’s business units except floor and wall coverings.

Sales at the cork stoppers unit - which accounts for 70% of total sales - fell 5.7% to 527 million euros, as wine consumption dropped, particularly in hotels and restaurants which were among businesses most affected by lockdown measures.

“Despite the fact that all segments registered a decline in sales, the cork stoppers for sparkling wines segment was penalised the most,” the company said, noting a fall of 9%.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) slipped 1.8% to 122.5 million euros.

It did not give further details of the one-off charges, other than saying there were non-recurring costs and the impact of the sale of its U.S. flooring business in 2019.

By Patrícia Vicente Rua, Editing by Andrei Khalip, Kirsten Donovan