RFM Corp. said on Wednesday that its sales last year rose by 7% to more than P16.8 billion, based on initial estimates, while it expects income to be “flattish” compared with P1.29 billion previously.

“Our unaudited, internal estimates of topline for 2021 at over P16.8 billion show a decent 7% growth from 2020 while income is expected to be flattish versus 2021’s P1.29 billion,” said Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III, the company’s president and chief executive officer, in a disclosure to the stock exchange.

RFM previously reported a net income of P940 million as of the third quarter of 2021, or 5.3% higher than the P893 million recorded in the same period a year earlier.

“Our ice cream business joint venture with Unilever saw a better year in 2021 despite cost pressures from raw materials while our Selecta Milk as well as Fiesta and Royal Pasta and sauces sustained sales growth momentum with a good lift from local government unit demand in the last quarter. White King mixes and our institutional flour and bun-line businesses also remain in growth mode,” Mr. Concepcion said.

However, he said inflation from wheat, milk, and other raw materials slowed the expansion of the company’s net income.

“The good thing with our brands especially in the ice cream unit, is that even if we experience cost pressures from raw materials and operating expenses this year, we have been able to pass on in the past the impact on margins,” Mr. Concepcion said.

For 2022, the food and beverage company will most likely continue to experience “margin stresses,” he said, even as it plans to improve its warehouse and production capacity to support rising demand and new product releases.

But he said RFM’s parent company remains debt-free and has used its excess cash to implement share buybacks and increased dividend payouts, while fully funding its capital expenditure.

Mr. Concepcion said the recent surge in coronavirus infections is a concern to most businesses.

“We hope the infections are indeed mild although RFM is prepared for the worst. We just need everyone to be protected by vaccines and boosters,” he said.

Meanwhile, RFM announced the approval by its board of directors of a cash dividend worth P394 million or P0.116936 per share payable on Feb. 22 with a record date as of Jan. 26, 2022.

“RFM is looking into more dividend payments, perhaps quarterly instead of twice a year and also targeting about 5% dividend yield. RFM paid out 60% of its net income in the previous year but we will revisit in late 2022 if we can further improve our payout, given the cash accumulation and performance of the brands,” Mr. Concepcion said in the disclosure.

On Wednesday, RFM shares rose three centavos or 0.65% to close at P4.65 apiece. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson