BOGOTA, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Grupo SURA, Colombia's largest
investment company, could see income grow 15% this year, above
initial projections, due to better performances by companies it
owns stakes in, an executive said on Tuesday.
Grupo SURA's full-year profits are forecast at
close to 2019 levels, when they reached 1.7 trillion pesos
(about $442 million), said Ricardo Jaramillo, Grupo SURA's vice
president of business development and finance.
The company's first-half net profit soared to 672.4 billion
pesos ($173.8 million), double its full-year earnings in 2020,
which crashed 80% versus 2019 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In the first six months, the company's income rose 14.6% to
11.7 trillion pesos ($3.03 billion).
"The companies have good growth, they have good top-line
income growth, liquidity and solvency is positive, there is a
strong control of expenses, and that leads us to have better
results," Jaramillo said in an interview with Reuters.
Grupo SURA is made up of insurer Suramericana and pension
and investment funds manager Sura Asset Management. It also has
stakes ranging between 20% and 50% in Bancolombia,
Grupo Argos, and Grupo Nutresa.
Jaramillo's forecast for income to grow 15% is above the 8%
to 10% growth forecast in March by Chief Executive Gonzalo Perez
during a conversation with Reuters.
"We hope to continue the rest of the year with control of
expenses that allows us at the end of the day to have a much
higher profit than expected and closer to that of 2019,"
Grupo SURA is cutting expenses, selling its non-strategic
assets and reducing its debt levels, including advance payment
of $300 million in bonds during the second quarter.
Grupo SURA was trading at 19,540 pesos a share on Tuesday, a
far cry from its 32,000 pesos a share price in March 2020.
($1 = 3,867.73 pesos)
(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Oliver Griffin;
Editing by Dan Grebler)