Philippines’ top 1,000 firms saw slow revenue growth even before pandemic

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

THE COUNTRY’S TOP 1,000 corporations saw their combined gross revenue grow at its slowest pace in four years in 2019, providing a baseline for how these firms were doing before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The gross revenue of the top firms amounted to P12.303 trillion in 2019, 4.7% more than P11.754 trillion in the previous year. Meanwhile, their combined net income amounted to P1.455 trillion, 5.8% lower than the P1.545 trillion recorded in the year prior.

The 2019 performance of the top 1,000 marked the slowest gross revenue growth since the 2.8% clip in 2015. Moreover, the decline in aggregate profits was the first since the 18.5% plunge recorded in 2008.

Comparison of sectoral performance in 2019

To recall, Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2019 grew at a revised rate of 6% at constant 2018 prices, the slowest in eight years or since 2011’s 3.9%. Similarly, nominal GDP growth — or output expansion based on current prices — was reported at 6.9% that same year, the slowest since the 5.6% showing in 2015.

Now on its 34th year, BusinessWorld Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines ranks private and public stock entities based on gross revenue using the latest available full-year audited financial statements.

It should be noted that the latest data refer to firms’ performance in 2019, a year before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic sent companies operating at below full capacity. Hence, these figures provide a baseline for how the country’s largest corporations were doing before the pandemic hit. The Philippine economy declined by 9.5% in 2020, its worst performance since the 1940s.

The latest edition of the Top 1000 had a gross revenue cutoff of P1.870 billion, lower than the previous edition’s P2.218 billion, considering the financial statements that were collected.

Petron Corp. grabbed the top spot on this year’s list with P323.273 billion in gross revenue. However, this was 10.5% lower compared with its gross earnings of P361.353 billion in 2018. The oil refiner and distributor also saw its profits plunge to P114.923 million from P6.337 billion the year before.

Second on the list is power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), which saw its gross earnings grow by 3.7% to P309.090 billion in 2019. On the other hand, its net income contracted by around 15% to P20.644 billion from P24.253 billion.

In the third spot was Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. with P219.779 billion in gross revenue in 2019, inching down 0.03% compared with 2018 level. On the other hand, its net income jumped 10.7% to P5.62 billion.

Rounding out the top 10 are BDO Unibank, Inc., P196.226 billion; PMFTC, Inc., P172.765 billion; Toyota Motor Philippines Corp., P160.532 billion; Mercury Drug Corp., P160.180 billion; Philippine Airlines, Inc., P154.532 billion; Toshiba Information Equipment (Philippines), Inc., P139.523 billion; and Nestle Philippines, Inc., P125.102 billion.

The Top 1000 publication also provides a separate table ranking of these firms on a consolidated basis, that is, a parent company and its subsidiaries are treated as though they are a single entity. This is different from the main top 1,000 list wherein parent-only financial statements are used to account only for parent firms’ equitized earnings of their subsidiaries and associates. This was expanded to 200 firms in the latest edition from 100 in the previous release.

The list of the top 200 consolidated corporations saw San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and subsidiaries leading with P1.068 trillion in gross revenue in 2019, up 0.8% from 2018.

The consolidated business units of Top Frontier Investment Holdings, Inc. — San Miguel’s top shareholder — and Petron occupied the second and third spots with gross revenues of P1.068 trillion (up 0.9%) and P520.606 billion (down 7.7%), respectively.

The rest of the top 10 included SM Investments Corp. and subsidiaries, P506.295 billion; Mermac, Inc. and a subsidiary, P330.906 billion; Ayala Corp. and subsidiaries, P330.906 billion; Meralco and subsidiaries, P322.592 billion; San Miguel Food and Beverage, Inc. and subsidiaries, P313.803 billion; JG Summit Holdings, Inc. and subsidiaries, P307.596 billion; and GT Capital Holdings, Inc. and subsidiaries, P226.754 billion.

Of the 18 sectors represented by the top 1,000 corporations, 16 recorded revenue growth with five showing double-digit increases. Gross revenues of manufacturers, which made up 32.8% of the 2019 total, only went up by 0.7%, while those in the wholesale and retail trade (21.8% share) and financial and insurance activities (16.8% share), rose by 7.3% and 6.9%, respectively.

Multinational companies included in the latest edition made P4.204 trillion, 2.9% more than in the previous year and accounting for 34.2% of the Top 1000.

Exporting firms included in the Top 1000 recorded P1.819 trillion in revenues, 2.4% less than in the previous year. They make up 14.8% of total gross revenues in 2019.

BusinessWorld Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines can be purchased at select branches of National Book Store, Powerbooks, Fully Booked, Office Warehouse and Rustan’s Supermarket. These can also be purchased directly through BusinessWorld‘s Circulation Department at (+632) 8535-9940 loc. 250-258 or e-mail at circ@bworldonline.com.

For the soft copy version, please visit bworldonline.com/bwdigitized. L.O. Pilar