Billionaire Kosyuk Plans MHP Buyback After Poultry Maker Slumps

The founder of Mironovskiy Hleboproduct SA, Ukraine’s biggest poultry producer, is considering buying back shares after the stock slumped 44 percent over the last four years.

“Should the stock price continue to decline, I will buy back shares,” Yuriy Kosyuk, the billionaire chief executive officer who founded the company known as MHP in 1998, said in an interview in his Kiev office on May 24. “There are resources to buy back shares.”

Kosyuk, 44, sold a 19.4 percent stake at $15 a share in an initial public offering in 2008, raising $322.5 million. The stock closed at $11.15 in London trading on May 25, sliding from a record closing high of $19.8 in June 2008.

Ukraine’s benchmark stock index has plunged 27 percent this year on concern Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis will cut demand for the country’s commodities such as steel and chemical products. The economy is set to slow to 1.6 percent this year from 5.2 percent in 2011, Fitch Rating said on May 11.

MHP’s first-quarter profit more than doubled to $48 million from a year earlier on higher chicken prices and growing exports, the company said on May 17. Full-year net income jumped 20 percent to $259 million in 2011 as revenue climbed 30 percent to $1.23 billion. Volumes rose 12 percent to 370,900 tons as the company boosted sales to Libya, Lebanon, Uzbekistan and Angola.

Higher Profit

This year’s operations will be “very successful,” Kosyuk said, adding that cost reduction “will be a nice surprise to investors.” MHP will probably get approvals to export its chicken meat to the European Union from June, Kosyuk said.

Revenue will increase to $1.4 billion in 2012 and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization will be from $450 million to $460 million, according to MHP forecasts.

“In poultry production, if you watch costs, you don’t have risks,” Kosyuk said. MHP, which sells 87 percent of its chicken meat domestically, expects prices in Ukraine to continue rising after a 10 percent increase last year, he said.

Correlation with higher global poultry prices and falling costs should protect MHP from currency risks, Kosyuk said.

“A possible hryvnia devaluation is the smallest problem for us,” he said.

The company, which produces 380,000 tons of chicken meat a year, plans to increase annual output by 220,000 tons from the middle of 2014, Kosyuk said. By this time about 20 to 25 percent of output will be sold abroad as MHP is looking for new markets in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

MHP plans to invest $360 million to $370 million this year and $150 million in 2013, mainly in the expansion of its new plant in Vinnytsya, central Ukraine. The company is also looking for acquisitions in countries with growing chicken meat consumption in Asia and Europe.

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