SAO PAULO, March 11 (Reuters) - Brazil’s JBS SA, the world’s largest beef exporter, registered a fourth-quarter 2014 net profit of 618.8 million reais ($198 million) on Wednesday, a more than fourfold increase from 140.7 million reais a year earlier.
JBS did not give 2015 guidance but said organic growth and not acquisitions was a priority, along with reducing debt and improving corporate credit ratings.
JBS’ earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization - a measure of cash flow known as EBITDA - was 3.3 billion reais in the fourth quarter, up from 1.9 billion reais a year earlier, according to the filing.
An outlier was JBS’s Mercosur unit, which includes beef production in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. EBITDA there fell 23 percent from a year earlier due to rising beef costs that JBS said were only partially passed on to consumers.
Beef prices rose to record highs late last year in Brazil after drought hurt some pasture areas.
JBS’s overall profit in 2014 was 2 billion reais and EBITDA was 11.1 billion reais for the year. In the third quarter of 2014, JBS posted profit of 1.1 billion reais.
By the end of 2014 JBS’s debt to EBITDA ratio was 2.1, down from 2.5 in the third quarter of 2014. ($1 = 3.12 reais) (Reporting by Roberto Samora, Gustavo Bonato, Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)