By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bahamas Waste has returned to historical first quarter profit levels after its net income more-than-tripled year-over-year, a result that exceeded its own expectations by 24 per cent.
Disa Campbell, the BISX-listed waste services provider’s chief financial officer, told Tribune Business that the company expected to maintain this performance level for the remainder of 2014 barring any unforeseen events.
And, after investing a further $30,000 in the 2014 first quarter to enhance plant efficiencies, Bahamas Waste was targeting “at least” a 30 per cent increase in biodiesel production volumes this year.
Ms Campbell added that the 10 per cent rate increase implemented on April 1 last year - the first since it entered the segment in 2005 - had enabled Bahamas Waste to better align its medical waste costs with revenues.
Speaking after the company saw its bottom line for the three months to end-March 2014 increase by 210 per cent year-over-year, hitting $232,211 compared to $74,828 in the prior year, Ms Campbell attributed much of the improvement to increased construction activity and residential garbage collection contracts awarded by the Government.
The increase in construction projects also boosted Bahamas Waste’s portable toilet business, and Ms Campbell said: “We exceeded our budget by 24 per cent.
“It’s a return to the first quarter profits that we are accustomed to seeing. The first quarter is generally one of our strongest quarters. There’s a lot of projects that take off generally in January, with new things coming on stream.
“We’re pleased with the first quarter performance, and we expect that to continue for the rest of the year. We just need to wait and see. If everything holds true, we should have a pretty good year.”
Ms Campbell said Bahamas Waste invested a further $30,000 into enhancing its biodiesel plant in the first quarter, adding to a similar outlay in the latter months of 2013.
“Most of the focus in the first quarter has been on improvements to the processing plant and working towards increasing the customer base so that collections improve,” she told Tribune Business.
“If we get to where we hope to be, where the processing is smoother and inputs are there, production goes up and together that affects production costs per gallon. The greater volumes bring costs down on a per gallon basis.”
Ms Campbell added: “We’re hoping for a 30 per cent increase at least in the volumes. We were doing about 1,000 gallons a week last year, so we’re hoping to see that increase to 1,300-1,500.”
Bahamas Waste can only use this biodiesel to supply its own vehicle fleet, as it has no licence to sell the finished product to other customers inside or outside the Bahamas.
Ms Campbell, though, said new providers of the biodiesel raw material, namely used cooking oil, were coming on board with the initiative.
With most hotels and grocery stores already involved, she said Bahamas Waste “now needs a larger influx of smaller generators to bring volumes up”, such as small restaurants.
The BISX-listed provider has enjoyed less success, though, with its waste cardboard recycling and export initiative due to a lack of support, and supply, from the Bahamian private sector.
“We wish we could see more entities there,” Ms Campbell told Tribune Business. “We are focused on getting the two recycling ventures profitable. We don’t want to add anything else that steps away from the core business.
“We are still trying to explore other avenues on the recycling side, maybe the plastics, but we’re still in talks with different brokers and have to get different equipment for sorting. We’re still exploring the possibilities.”
Ms Campbell added that the 10 per cent rate increase on medical waste collections from hospitals and doctors offices had managed “to offset the considerable increase in costs” incurred since the business was started in 2005.