Philippines' Jollibee posts Q1 profit as international sales recover

MANILA, May 12 (Reuters) - Philippines’ Jollibee Foods Corp said on Wednesday it posted a net profit for the second consecutive quarter, supported by international sales that have recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

The fast food giant, known for its fried ‘Chickenjoy’ and chopped hotdogs in sweet spaghetti sauce, has used its dominant position at home to pursue an aggressive overseas expansion in recent years, increasing its footprint in China and buying brands in the United States.

In a disclosure statement, Jollibee reported a 153 million pesos ($3.2 million) profit in the first quarter, reversing a 1.7 billion net loss in the same period last year, but below the 2 billion pesos it made in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“Most of our businesses abroad are reaching sales at pre-pandemic level,” Jollibee CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong said.

Compared to the first quarter of 2019, sales declined by 28.5% in the Philippines, but rose overall by a third with the acquisition of California-based Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Jollibee said. The international business contributed 41% to global system-wide sales.

“We look forward to a strong recovery of our Philippine business in the months ahead and even faster sales and profit growth of our businesses abroad,” Tanmantiong said.

Philippine operations remain hampered by coronavirus curbs as the country fights a second wave of infections, while overseas stores have started recovery as other countries reopen.

Jollibee plans to issue around 8 billion pesos in preferred shares and buy back around $250 million of perpetual bonds this year to strengthen its balance sheet and spread the maturity of debts. ($1 = 47.8550 Philippine pesos) (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Ed Davies)