ECONOMY | 4/30/2010 12:00:00 AM
Top 100 Companies in Colombia
The first decade of the 21st century was a period of great global challenges and of transformations for Colombian companies. The financial crisis hit rock bottom, but the overall balance is not as bad as expected.
In a situation of falling demand, trembling trust from the consumers and uncertainty for the future of the global economy, Colombian companies held their own. However, it was difficult to grow due to the slowdown of the economy, which in turn had a negative impact on sales. 34 of the 100 biggest Colombian companies felt a decrease in their operational incomes when compared to 2008.
Few companies were able to escape the hurricane that shook the planet’s economy. Ecopetrol, Colombia’s biggest company, felt a blow in all its indicators. Sales were down 10 per cent while net profits decreased 56 per cent. The lower prices of oil around the world and the contraction in the world economy had a negative effect on their results, just like they did on the performance of other oil companies that operate in Colombia and that are also part of this ranking: BP, ExxonMobil, Petrobras and Occidental.
The Colombian enterprises felt the heat in other aspects as well: a fall in consumption, a decrease in exports and a pause in long term investments.
Even though it was a difficult year in which the companies struggled to maintain their sales, control their expenses and prevent a fall in their profits, some companies did their best and were able to weather the storm. In SEMANA’s ranking, very interesting movements, due to strategic decisions, can be observed. Two companies stand out: Colinversiones moved from spot 121 to 23 mainly because they decided to focus on the energy business. Pacific Rubiales also deserved an honorable mention: it is the first time it makes the list and it landed at number 38. Not bad for a newcomer. This oil company is here to stay: its share has had an outstanding behavior in the market and nobody doubts that this company will continue climbing the ladder in the years to come.
In this 2009’s ranking, EPM placed second and pushed Almacenes Éxito into the third spot. Nacional de Chocolates and Bavaria gained two spots each. A snapshot of the ranking could be summarized in few words: the companies with the biggest assets are Ecopetrol, EPM, Inversiones Argos, ISA, and Bavaria.
It is worth mentioning that this ranking does not include SaludCoop, an enterprise that ranked 18 in 2008, because it did not share its financial information this year.
In a tight economical year, employment was the greatest victim. Many companies were forced to downsize in order to reduce their costs. Luckily, this was not the case for Colombia. Some companies even decided to hire new staff. Among those who employ the biggest number of people, and who decided to keep the same number of people or hire more there are companies like Grupo Nacional de Chocolates, Almacenes Éxito, EPM, Postobón, Cementos Argos, Olímpica, Carrefour, Colsubsidio, Fabricato-Tejicóndor y Cafam.
For the present year, prospects are good and expectation is high. The worst part of the financial crisis has already passed. Trust is returning to Colombia and the rest of the world, but it is not yet time to celebrate. This year’s GDP growth projections stand at 2.5 and 3.0 per cent indicate recovery will be slow.
Read the complete 100 Companies in Colombia special edition and ranking (in Spanish) here.