Saudi Arabia’s Almarai, the Gulf’s largest dairy company, reported an 8.8 per cent increase in second-quarter net profit on Sunday as sales rose.
Almarai made a profit of SAR433.3 million ($115.5 million) in the three months to June 30, up from SAR398.2 million in the year-earlier period, according to a statement to Riyadh’s bourse.
The firm said second-quarter sales rose 14.4 per cent to SAR3.29 billion from higher sales in core parts of the business.
Almarai’s selling, distribution and general expenses all increased in the second quarter because of its expansion “across product categories and geographies” and rising depreciation costs from earlier investments.
This meant Almarai’s net profit margin fell to 13.2 per cent of sales in the second quarter from 13.9 per cent in the corresponding period of 2013.
The firm made a net profit of SAR706.9 million in the first half of 2014, up from SAR653.3 million a year earlier.
The company said rising costs had crimped its half-year profit due to a rising wage bill associated with localisation efforts and increasing raw material costs.
Saudi Arabia has introduced some measures in recent years, including quotas and financial penalties, to boost the number of Saudi citizens employed in the Kingdom’s private sector – which has increased labour costs for companies as locals are often paid higher salaries than expatriates.
However, Almarai said it expects higher demand for its products in the third quarter, partly due to Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting that began in late June.