RFM Corp. recorded a 51% increase in its attributable net income to P320 million in the first quarter due to sustained topline growth in its milk, pasta, and flour brands, it said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

Total sales for the January-March period rose 4% to P3.34 billion from P3.22 billion year on year, the listed food and beverage company said.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) increased 39.3% to P627 million against P450 million a year ago.

“RFM’s consumer brands Selecta Fortified Milk and Fiesta and Royal pasta and sauce brands grew 9% from year ago levels alongside its ice cream business. Its White King hotcakes and bowl mixes business also grew 3% for the quarter,” the company said.

RFM President and Chief Executive Officer Jose A. Concepcion III said the company’s consumer food brands continue to record good sales and income growth with the return of normal consumer behavior after the strict quarantine measures last year.

However, he said headwinds such as price hikes in commodity and raw materials could affect demand and margins, which might be tempered by the upcoming elections.

“The coming election spending should provide a good shot in the arm for consumer spending in the latter part of 2021,” Mr. Concepcion said in the disclosure.

He estimated that consumer demand and spending would increase as the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination program gathers momentum by June.

“We need to be more efficient in all aspects of the value chain for us to minimize the impact of the higher prices of oil, milk, wheat, paper and other costs of production. To target a growth in net income for 2021 despite the inflationary pressures on raw materials, we need better volume leverage and efficiency in operations,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Concepcion said the company is keeping its 60% cash dividend payout from its net income. In March, RFM paid a cash dividend worth P350 million or P0.103 per share.

“The dividend declaration is the first of two dividend declarations made every year by the company. The second dividend declaration is expected in the second half of the year. The full year dividend yield is at 4.6% at the recent price of stock,” the company said.

On Thursday, shares of RFM at the stock exchange fell 0.63% or three centavos to end at P4.70 each. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave