business

Bangko Sentral eyes March inflation between 4.2-5%

April 5, 2021

THE  Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) forecasts inflation in March to range between 4.2 to 5 percent, with the point inflation seen at 4.6 percent.      The projected point inflation for the month is lower than the 4.7 percent rate of price increases last February.      In a Viber message to journalists Wednesday, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said among the factors for this month’s inflation projection are lower power rates in areas being serviced by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), and “lower prices of key food items due to supply conditions and the continued implementation of price caps on meat products.”      He, however, cited the rise in oil prices and the weakening of the peso as offsetting factors.      “Moving forward, the BSP will continue to monitor evolving economic and financial conditions to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with the BSP’s price stability mandate,” he added.      Inflation has been on the rise since the last quarter of 2020 due to supply constraints on several food items like meat, which is caused by the African swine fever (ASF) and the spike in global oil prices.      Monetary authorities project the elevated inflation to last until the third quarter of this year. (PNA)

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Cebu Landmasters set to launch its flagship economic housing brand to four more VisMin cities in 2021

March 8, 2021

Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) recently announced the 2021 rollout of its flagship economic housing brand Casa Mira to four more key cities in the Visayas-Mindanao region as the response to the massive demand for safe and secure value housing heightened by the pandemic.      A study from Leechiu Property Consultants disclosed that by 2022, housing backlog is estimated to reach 6.8 million housing units, 44% of which is from the economic segment catered by the Casa Mira brand.      CLI chief executive officer Jose Soberano III observed that the housing backlog in the Visayas Mindanao region became very apparent in 2020 as infections from COVID-19 surged highlighting a need for economic housing in secure and well-planned communities.      He said: “Many new residential seekers met that need by purchasing Casa Mira homes. As demand in other parts of the region continues to be largely unmet, we’ve made it our mission to roll out more Casa Mira projects in more VisMin cities to fill that gap.”      Ten Casa Mira communities with a development cost of P10.24 billion and a total of over 10,000 housing units are currently in five VisMin locations: Cebu, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo and Sibulan, Negros Oriental.      New developments will be launched in Dumaguete this month and in other key cities in VisMin in the next few months particularly in Ormoc, Puerto Princesa and Davao City.      At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Vismin residents purchased in record numbers CLI’s Casa Mira housing units priced from Php 1.6 M. They altogether accounted for 69% of CLI’s reservation sales of P14.23 billion, the firm’s highest to date. This robust sales figure indicates the level of revenue CLI will be recording in the future of which Casa Mira has always been a significant contributor with 30% share.      “We believe that an expansive mood and lessons learned from the pandemic–where homes in well-planned communities provided a safe haven–will drive Casa Mira forward for the balance of the year,” says Soberano.      Through Casa Mira, CLI has maintained the largest residential market share in Visayas and Mindanao by upgrading the lifestyle of its residents with generous community amenities usually packaged with higher-priced developments. Thus, Casa Mira townhouses with floor areas from 40 sqm. to 62 sqm. or residential condominium units with floor areas from 20 sqm. to 36 sqm. are perceived to offer great value.      Casa Mira communities also offer more value to the buyers by providing more open spaces and more amenities such as a clubhouse with multi-purpose halls, chapel, swimming pool, basketball court and children’s playground. Casa Mira is also envisioned to be a complete community with retail spaces inside the subdivisions where residents can purchase their basic necessities.      Casa Mira homes have been warmly received in every city, even in Dumaguete where it was recently launched. Casa Mira Home Dumaguete offers a gated and well-planned community located near a transport hub, schools and churches; and has 586 townhouse units a short walk away from a community clubhouse, swimming pool, multi-purpose court, and play area.      As much as 60% of the development’s 6.1 hectares in phase 1 has been earmarked as open space allowing residents breathing and leisure space. Moreover, the community is protected by a 24-hour security system and enjoys professional property management services offered by a CLI affiliate.      “We envision each Casa Mira project to provide the most ideal community for the average Filipino Family. It’s a place where families can grow and live their best lives,” explained Soberano.      Casa Mira projects have won various awards. Casa Mira South in Cebu was named Best Housing Development in the province by PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards 2018. The same development was named as the Best House of the Year in the Visayas and Mindanao during the Outlook Awards 2018 by Lamudi. In 2019, Lamudi named Casa Mira Towers in Labangon as the Best Affordable Condo of the Year.      The brand’s rapid expansion from its first developments in Cebu, to Negros Oriental, to Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod in the past seven years attests to its ability to meet its promise “to give more to the Filipino family.”      With the rapid development of CLI, the stockholders of the company have approved the 123% stock dividends during the special stockholders’ meeting. The purpose is to strengthen the capital base of the listed company that now has more than P50 billion total assets, and to prepare the firm for any significant equity raising opportunities. The aforementioned stock dividends will be sourced from the increase in authorized capital stock of CLI upon approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Economist eyes further improvement of PH manufacturing sector

March 8, 2021

FURTHER reopening of the domestic economy and easing of quarantine level to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) nationwide in the coming months are expected to further lift the manufacturing sector.      This, after Markit’s manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the Philippines remains steady at 52.5 in the second month this year.      In a report, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort said the latest PMI is the highest in more than two years or since December 2018, and a reversal of the 49.2 print in December 2020.      “(It is) a pleasant surprise since it is slightly higher/better vs.52.3 a year ago or in February 2020 or shortly before the Covid-19 lockdowns/pandemic; a leading indicator that could suggest further pick up in business/economic activities for the second straight month of 2021 as sustained even after the Christmas season in December 2020,” he said.      A PMI index of above 50 indicates expansion while an index of below 50 means contraction.      Ricafort said the possible easing of the quarantine level in the remaining areas under GCQ, like the National Capital Region (NCR), will result in “higher capacity for many businesses/industries, which may lead further pick up in manufacturing activities as well.”      Citing news reports, he said a shift to MGCQ will only be allowed if the supply of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines has reached 2 million and rollout continues.      On Monday, the government launched its inoculation program using part of the 600,000 doses of Sinovac-produced CoronaVac, which were donated by China.      Among those that were given the vaccine are UP-PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, Dr. Edsel Salvaña, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at UP-National Institutes of Health; and Covid-19 testing czar Vince Dizon.      “Further reduction in new Covid-19 cases could be helped further by the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming months of 2021, as well any further confirmation on the effectiveness of existing Covid-19 vaccines to control the new variants/strains that are more contagious, would help improve sentiment on economy, thereby allowing more businesses and people to work and also support more economic activities that result to increased spending/consumption, which also help fundamentally boost manufacturing activities,” Ricafort added. (PNA)

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Cebu Pacific taps local banks for P16-B loan

March 8, 2021

CEBU Air, Inc., operator of budget carrier Cebu Pacific, on Friday said its board approved a P16-billio, ten-year loan from local banks.      In a disclosure to the stock exchange on Friday, the company said that its board of directors approved the loan from state banks Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines, in partnership with private banks.      The private banks include Asia United Bank Corporation, Bank of the Philippines Islands, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company, and Union Bank of the Philippines.      The loan will be used to fund the firm’s capital expenditures and other general corporate purposes.      “The loan will also provide a cushion against unexpected working capital requirements that may stem from fuel price and foreign exchange rate volatility,” Cebu Air said.      The commercial airline industry was hit hard by the pandemic. Cebu Pacific currently operates less than a quarter of its pre-pandemic network at 32 domestic destinations as it runs half of its 73 aircraft.      The budget carrier said that it sustained severe revenue declines during the pandemic, but its net debt-to-equity ratio was still at 2.34x as of the end of September.      “Cebu Pacific remains focused on its business transformation to reduce its unit cost so as to continue to offer affordable flights,” Cebu Air President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Y. Gokongwei said.      The company swung to a net loss of P14.69 billion for the first nine months of 2020 from the P6.77-billion profit in the same period a year earlier.      The fundraising adds to the company’s convertible preferred shares offering, where it plans to raise around P12.5 billion, Cebu Pacific Director for Financial Analytics and Investor Relations Trina E. Asuncion said on Wednesday.

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Emperador’s global presence continues to expand across North America, Europe and China

October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines - Emperador Inc. – the world’s largest brandy company owning the iconic Emperador Brandy and Fundador Spanish Brandy de Jerez – continues its aggressive growth across North America and Europe during the first nine months of the year even as the global pandemic adversely hit most countries in these continents.       Fundador, Tres Cepas, and Emperador brands have been growing consistently, particularly in the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and Greater China. In Spain, brands owned and produced under Grupo Emperador España S.A. continue to dominate the brandy market with 40% market share.      Fundador has been particularly showing spectacular performance even in North America. In the United States alone, Fundador achieved 23% growth during the first nine months of the year. In Canada, sales have also tripled during the first nine months as Fundador Light has been made available in Alberta, Canada as a new expression this year. The new Fundador Double Light was also rolled out across the US.       Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, Fundador grew 185% during the first nine months, while in Italy, it recorded 15% growth during the same period. Emperador’s brandy performance, on the other hand, achieved 8% growth in Mexico during this period.      “We are glad that the company was able to deliver solid performance in the first nine months of 2020 on the strength of its international business that we have developed in the past five years.  The highest international growth comes from China, which is expected to more than double from last year, which will be driven by the premium single malt brands and brandy.  We are confident that this will pave the way for further growth in the future for Emperador,” says Glenn Manlapaz, chief executive officer, Emperador International.      As international sales of its brandy and whisky products in various markets around the world, Emperador recorded 11% growth in its net income to P5.9-billion during the first nine months of the year while third quarter earnings achieved 26% record growth to P2.5-billion as overseas demand for its products surged amid the global pandemic.       “The success of our international expansion boosted company earnings, bringing stability and growth at a time when the Philippines wrestles with the impact of the coronavirus.  Emperador’s global business saw double-digit growth as it adapted well to new consumption trends,” says Winston Co, president, Emperador Inc.      Emperador Inc., which owns Emperador Distillers, Inc., Scotch whisky maker Whyte and Mackay Group, and Bodegas Fundador in Spain, has brandy and whisky brands that are available in more than 100 countries around the world.

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SHELL’S 2ND VIRTUAL ART INTERACT SPOTLIGHTS MINDANAO | Creating stories of hope in isolation

October 20, 2020

Mindanao is hailed for its abundant natural resources and breathtaking landscapes. But beyond its pristine beaches and lush mountains is a burgeoning community of creatives who are injecting their unique Mindanaoan identity into art and using it as a force for good. As the country continues to grapple with COVID-19, Mindanaoan artists are stepping up to create stories of hope while in isolation. Following the theme of “HOPE IN OUR ART,” Pilipinas Shell’s 53rd National Students Art Competition (NSAC) held the second leg of Virtual Art Interact last October 17, in collaboration with creative collective Fringe Manila. Virtual Art Interact is also a platform where creatives can share their insights about their profession for the next generation. While the pilot event focused on the Luzon art scene, this recent forum put the spotlight on the growing community of creators in Mindanao. Since NSAC’s inception, Shell has acknowledged the vital role of visual artists, illustrators, sculptors, and other imaginative talents in shaping the youth and country’s future—especially now. “Through NSAC, we pledge our support to keep artists and art institutions alive. We want to amplify the youth’s voices, and continue the conversation on art’s importance,” said Sankie Simbulan, Country Social Performance and Investment Manager of Pilipinas Shell.  Simbulan continued, “The ethnic and cultural diversity of Mindanao and its rich history have given birth to a young generation of artists whose voices need to spread and be heard throughout the Philippines.”  Andrei Pamintuan, Creative Director of Fringe Manila and host of Virtual Art Interact, added, “This is a great opportunity to share stories from Mindanao. It’s important to be inclusive, especially for platforms like this, so that we can showcase the diversity of what’s happening in the Philippines.” Having survived many conflicts and calamities, Mindanao has proven itself to be a region of resilience—with artists at the helm of inspiring hope that propels the community forward.  Through his projects with Mindanao local governments, Zabala has been championing a fresh perspective of the region that does not let its past define its future. “At work, our goal is to recreate Mindanao’s image using art. For example, we created a campaign called ‘Zoom in Zamboanga City’ that is inspired by our rich history, nature, tourist spots, native patterns, and more,” Zabala explained. Being no strangers to crises, Zabala and fellow Mindaoan artists immediately heeded the call to once again inspire hope and courage as COVID struck the country. He shared, “The pandemic is a challenge for everyone. People have lost jobs, families have gone hungry, and mental health is affected. As public servants and artists, our work should never stop. We have since created several campaigns that promote generosity and kindness in the community.” Zabala, who did a live demonstration of digital illustration during the event, also discussed the many themes present in today’s art. “There are so many stories now about struggles and difficulties, both personal and in our country [Ang daming stories ngayon tungkol sa struggle]. As creatives, we use art to express our emotions and what we are going through.”  Zabala also pointed out one essential, if often overlooked, role that artists perform during crisis: “We also act as historians who visually piece together this moment in time—including all the contemplation and uncertainty it holds. When we look back on this period someday, art will help us make sense of it.” Isko Andrade, a former contestant and three-time winner of the NSAC, shared how he overcame the more discouraging moments during the pandemic. “COVID-19 has affected my career as an artist because of cancelled shows and exhibits, but I choose not to dwell on the negative side [Maraming nag-iba since nagka-COVID. Na-affect yung career ko as an artist kasi madaming cancelled shows at exhibits, pero di lang ako tumitingin sa mga negative].  “‘The pandemic has given me time to focus on myself, my craft, and taught me to appreciate and find inspiration in everything—whether they’re big or small [Pero ngayong pandemic, nakafocus ako sa sarili ko at sa art ko. Na-appreciate ko din ang bawat bagay, maliit man o malaki].” The Bulacan-based Andrade looked back on how opportunities presented themselves to him in the middle of adversity. One such door was his win during the NSAC competition in 2014. His winning oil on canvas piece, entitled ‘Ipinagkakait na Kalayaan,’ was in itself an example of triumph over adversity:  this life-changing canvas depicts paintbrushes ready to be buried, and was inspired by the death of his mother and the pains that come from being part of a broken family.  He said, “As a young student artist from the province, I had simple dreams of finishing college and getting a normal job. I didn’t think I could ever win NSAC, but it was such a big help for me and my family. I was able to pursue my art, and I learned to dream bigger. [Dati, pangarap ko lang sa probinsya ay makatapos ng pag-aaral at kumuha ng trabaho. Nakakatuwa dahil di ko akalain na mananalo ako sa NSAC. Sobrang laking tulong ng NSAC. Nakatapos ako ng pag-aaral at natuto akong mangarap ng higit sa pangarap ko.]” Zabala concurred that creative platforms such as NSAC are bringers of hope that can keep communities alive during the most difficult times. He said, “Art is a great tool for healing. It’s cathartic. We can use it to give people something to hold on to as they live through the pandemic.” Simbulan reminded the audience to remember and explore its rich heritage to mine stories for encouragement. She said, “As Filipinos, we have a wealth of culture and creativity that can act as reservoirs of hope and fuel for economic recovery. We can all learn a thing or two from artists—how to create more with less, how to discover new perspectives in the mundane, and how to find the silver lining amid this isolation..” The next and final leg of Shell Virtual Art Interact is set to happen on November 7 and will focus on the Visayas region. Meanwhile, the awarding of the NSAC, which currently has 1,300 entries, will take place on November 27. For more information, keep posted on Shell Philippines’ website and social media accounts.  Website: www.shell.com.ph Facebook: Shell

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