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MBI Business Brief – May 6, 2022

Assiniboine Community College and Roquette Canada partner with Protein Industries Canada to create new post-secondary programs

On May 4, Protein Industries Canada announced the collaboration with Assiniboine Community College and Roquette Canada, to develop and deliver new post-secondary programs to build capacity in food processing.

The new three-year programs – Chemical Engineering Technology Diploma and Food Science Diploma – will be the first of their kind in Manitoba, with the Food Science Diploma a first on the Prairies. Assiniboine Community College will develop the programs with Roquette and other organizations to identify the skills needed by the food processing industry.

“As a growing sector that promises to be a driver of Canada’s economy, and an industry that will require an additional 17,000 new employees by 2035, it is critical that we develop programs to help build a skilled workforce to meet the needs of our industry partners,” said Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada. “The Chemical Engineering Technology Diploma and Food Science Diploma programs from Assiniboine Community College and Roquette can create a diverse talent source for Canada’s plant protein sector, which will result in more career opportunities for Canadians and growth for Canada’s economy.”

The programs will also be part of Assiniboine’s Indigenization Strategy by partnering with Indigenous processors, communities, Elders and Knowledge Keepers, as well as part of the expansion of the college’s agricultural training at the Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.

“The significant investment that industry leaders, like Roquette, have made in the ag sector in recent years brings with it an increased need for skilled, trained talent,” said Tim Hore, Dean, School of Agriculture and Environment at Assiniboine Community College. “The Prairie Innovation Centre will be integral to meeting this need in Manitoba, and training that connects technology and innovation to agriculture is key to moving the industry forward. Protein Industries Canada and Roquette’s investment into the evolving needs of this important sector will ensure both learners and industry are set for success.”

NFI Group Inc. reports Q1 2022 results and temporary departure of CEO

NFI Group Inc. released Q1 2022 results on May 5, reporting $459 million US in revenue for the quarter. The company reported a adjusted net loss of $41 million in Q1, down from $6 million in net earnings from the same time last year. According to NFI, the loss “was driven by the reduction in deliveries as a result of the global supply chain and logistics challenges and escalating supply disruptions of critical electronic parts from China. In addition, the Company did not receive any government wage subsidy grants, as the programs were either discontinued or NFI was no longer eligible.”

The company did report a positive longer-term outlook, as “government support for public transit vehicles and, specifically, zero-emission buses, is at an all-time high.” As well, NFI reported that significant new orders over the past twelve months, its backlog and government commitments to public transport are “expected to drive significant revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth for NFI from 2023 to 2025.”

“The first quarter reflected our broader operating environment, as we saw significant increases in demand metrics, including increases in new orders, backlog and bid activity, offset by supply chain disruptions and heightened inflation. Manufacturing segment results reflect the impacts of lower deliveries stemming from unreliable battery, chassis and electronics supply, as well as other missing components, and unfavourable sales mix. The Aftermarket segment was a bright spot, as it delivered year-over-year revenue growth in North American and UK markets, and solid Adjusted EBITDA and cash contribution,” said Paul Soubry, president and CEO at NFI. “As we look forward, we know that 2022 will have challenges, driven by unreliable parts supply, but we have a comprehensive plan to work through near-term issues and strong support from our banking partners to help us achieve our goals. The future remains very bright, as demand for our vehicles has never been higher and the first rollouts of record government investments in public transit are starting to reach our customers. Our multi-year backlog, market leading products and positions and deep customer relationships leave us extremely well positioned for recovery as supply chains normalize and parts availability recovers.”

Soubry also announced that he will be taking a temporary medical leave. The NFI board appointed Brian Dewsnup, president of NFI Parts, to be acting president and CEO of NFI Group during Paul’s absence. Soubry will remain a member of the board during his leave.

“We commend Paul and support his request to take this leave and wish him the best as he focuses on his health,” said the Hon. Brian Tobin, O.C. P.C., chair of NFI’s Board. “The Board has complete confidence in the strong management team that Paul has built, which includes standalone leadership of each business unit. Brian Dewsnup is an excellent choice for the interim role as he has a deep track record within our Company and industry, having been President of NFI Parts since 2017, President of North American Bus Industries (“NABI”), following its acquisition by NFI in 2013, and previously served as NABI’s Chief Financial Officer. Brian Dewsnup and the entire team are well positioned to continue to implement the businesses strategy and run day-to-day operations while Paul is away.”

The same day NFI also announced Wendy Kei was elected to its board of directors, and acknowledged the departure of retiring board member John Marinucci.

Artis Real Estate Investment Trust reports Q1 2022 results

Artis REIT reported its Q1 2022 earnings on May 5, reporting its NAV per unit had increased to $19.09 at March 31, 2022, from $17.37 at December 31, 2021.

“We are pleased with our first quarter results and the continued progress we’ve made towards executing our strategy. During the first quarter we, along with our consortium partners, closed on the previously announced privatization of Cominar REIT,” said Samir Manji, president and CEO of Artis. “NAV per unit, our most important key performance indicator, increased to $19.09 at March 31, 2022, from $17.37 at December 31, 2021. We used our NCIB to buy back over 4 million common units at a weighted-average price of $12.46 during the first three months of the year. Our real estate portfolio continues to show its resiliency, and we have made excellent progress on our development projects, including the completion of the fifth and final phase of Park 8Ninety, an industrial development in Houston, Texas. Overall, we remain focused and are committed to our 2022 plan that we believe will enable us to build upon the success we have had to date.”

Locally, the company reported that its 300 Main project in downtown Winnipeg saw the arrival of Earl’s Kitchen & Bar to its space on the main floor of the building and pre-leasing of the first 20 floors of the 40-storey residential apartments had started.

Maple Leaf Foods releases Q1 2022 earnings

On May 4, Maple Leaf Foods released its Q1 2022 earnings, reporting that sales totaled $1.13 billion, up from $1.05 billion in the same quarter last year. The increase was attributed to its meal protein group, which saw sales increase to $1.09 billion in Q1 2022 up from $1.01 billion a year earlier. As well, sales for its plant protein group rose to $44.9 million from $42.6 million.

On an adjusted basis, Maple Leaf says it earned three cents per share for the quarter, a decrease from an adjusted profit of 27 cents per share the same time last year.

“Our team’s perseverance and resiliency during the past two years has been nothing short of remarkable,” said Michael H. McCain, president and CEO. “As fully expected, intense Omicron impacts, including high levels of absenteeism, inflation, and supply chain disruptions, challenged us operationally, yet we achieved exceptional business performance in these extreme conditions. Revenue grew seven per cent and we remain on target to achieve our goal of 14 to 16 per cent Adjusted EBITDA margin in Meat Protein this year.”

Maple Leaf also noted that the company expects the Winnipeg-based Bacon Center of Excellence “to contribute approximately $30 million annually of additional Adjusted EBITDA once fully ramped up which is expected to be in the second half of 2023.”

The company also announced the upcoming departure of long-time CEO Michael McCain, who will be replaced by Curtis Frank, Maple Leaf’s current chief operating officer. McCain departs the role next spring.

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