widgetMany factors can push a company’s revenue up—or down. Here are 10 of the most intriguing stories of 2017

Paladin enews
Credit: Courtesy of Paladin Security

Last year Paladin became Canada’s biggest private security firm after buying three rivals

Smiley facePaladin Security Group Ltd.

Revenue Change: 53.5%
Net Income: NA
Net Income Change: NA

Last year Paladin became the nation’s largest private security firm. The Top 100 newcomer got there by acquiring two of its biggest competitors, Ottawa-based Marcomm Systems Group Inc. and Edmonton’s Contava Inc., in February before buying fellow Burnaby player Concord Security Corp. a month later. Concord had been one of Paladin’s main rivals, especially in Western Canada, where it managed parking lots in B.C. and Alberta for more than 30 years. The takeovers helped Paladin expand to some 10,000 employees in nine provinces and 16 U.S. states.

Smiley faceMethanex Corp.

Revenue Change: 50.1%
Net Income: $487.1 million
Net Income Change: NA

Methanex is one of the world’s top producers and suppliers of methanol, with offices on six continents. So it’s good for the company that the liquid chemical has a variety of uses, from an ingredient in substances like formaldehyde to a clean-burning alternative fuel. Partly due to a methanol shortage in the Middle East, where it doesn’t operate any plants, Vancouver-based Methanex posted adjusted net income of some US$400 million in fiscal 2017, a big reversal from its US$15-million loss the previous year. Declining production in Trinidad and Tobago’s gas fields forced competitor Methanol Holdings Ltd., which is based in the island nation, to close two of its five plants there, allowing Methanex’s two local facilities to flourish. It was a big boost to the company’s already lucrative South American operations. 

Methanex
Credit: Courtesy of Methanex Corp.

As methanol was scarce in the Middle East, Methanex’s Chile plant thrived

Smiley faceTaseko Mines Ltd.

Revenue Change: 43.4%
Net Income: $34.26 million
Net Income Change: NA

Taseko owns 75 percent of the Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine in the Central Interior, near Williams Lake. In 2017, the company reaped the benefits of focusing on those two minerals. The second-largest open-pit copper mine in Canada, Gibraltar had one of its strongest production years ever as copper prices climbed more than 30 percent compared to 2016. That was thanks to a decrease in supply—as major copper mines in Chile and Indonesia shuttered—plus rising demand from the Chinese market. Molyb­­denum saw an even bigger swing, gaining 50 percent in value during 2017, mostly owing to mine closures in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the mineral.

Smiley faceLions Gate Entertainment Corp.

Revenue Change: 33.7%
Net Income: $19.22 million
Net Income Change: –71.1%

One of the largest movie studios in the game, Vancouver-domiciled Lions Gate moved to diversify its portfolio while still churning out box-office hits. The purchase of the Starz network in December 2016 for US$4.4 billion paid immediate dividends as streaming service Hulu picked up a Starz title, Power, for a cool US$100 million the following May. That deal also allowed the studio to sell its stake in another American network, Epix, for US$400 million. Not a bad way to start a relationship. And although Lions Gate showed well at the Academy Awards, leading all studios with 26 nominations and eight wins, action thriller John Wick 2 became the biggest-selling electronic sell-through (downloaded via iTunes and other platforms) title in its history.

Smiley faceOpenRoad Auto Group Ltd.

Revenue Change: 25.2%
Net Income: NA
Net Income Change: NA

When you’ve gone as far as possible in one market, it’s time to look elsewhere to keep the ball rolling. That’s what happened for Vancouver-headquartered OpenRoad Auto Group, which runs 21 dealerships in Metro Vancouver offering 18 car brands. Although the company sells a variety of new and used autos, luxury models account for much of its revenue. With luxury sales up almost 10 percent in last year in B.C., where they make up one third of all vehicle purchases, according to Ontario-based DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, OpenRoad launched a stateside dealership in Bellevue, Washington, to hawk Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Rolls Royces. It’s the company’s first showroom outside the Lower Mainland.

 

OpenRoad
Credit: iStock

OpenRoad and its luxury cars fared better than TransLink (below) in 2017

Biggest Gainers

Sad faceSouth Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink)

Revenue Change: –21.6%
Net Income: $96.24 million
Net Income Change: –85.6%

TransLink headquarters was probably one of the only places in B.C. to lament the provincial government’s announcement last August that it was eliminating tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges. The transportation authority owns the Golden Ears Bridge, and even after the NDP announced a one-year deal to cover lost toll revenue, TransLink didn’t make up the difference. Although the agency reported record ridership in fiscal 2017, there’s another side of that coin—it took in less fuel tax revenue from the province.

TranslinkTranslink

Sad faceTurquoise Hill Resources Ltd.

Revenue Change: –23.4%
Net Income: $144 million
Net Income Change: 2%

You may have noticed a recurring theme in the list of biggest revenue losers: gold producers. Although the precious metal had a strong 2017 overall, finishing the year up almost 12 percent, at roughly US$1,300 an ounce, prices swung wildly. These gyrations were mostly due to an uncertain geopolitical and economic climate, given events like strife with North Korea and the rise of cryptocurrencies as an alternative to bullion. Vancouver-based Turquoise Hill, which focuses on gold, copper and coal in the Asia-Pacific, saw revenue fall again in 2017. In a bid to placate investors, the company insists that Mongolia’s massive Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold-silver mine, in which it holds a 66-percent stake, is about seven years away from expected peak production and should start turning a big profit in 2021.

Sad faceTeekay Corp.

Revenue Change: –20.8%
Net Income: –$197 million
Net Income Change: NA

Teekay is one of the largest ship owners anywhere, specializing in tankers that transport crude oil, liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas. The Bermuda-based company runs its Canadian shipping operations out of Vancouver, and while this coast isn’t necessarily forgiving to tankers full of fossil fuels, Teekay has had no problem staying relatively anonymous while making boatloads of money. But that didn’t hold true in 2017 as the business hit a rough patch, mostly owing to lower-than-expected oil production from OPEC countries.

Building Products
Credit: iStock

Taiga and Teekay had a down year for building products and shipping (below), respectively

Sad faceTaiga Building Products Ltd.

Revenue Change: –10.3%
Net Income: $8.67 million
Net Income Change: –26%

Building materials distributor Taiga grew its revenue from the U.S. during fiscal 2017, by about a 12-percent margin. However, the drop in its Canadian business dragged the entire Burnaby company down more than 10 percent. One of Taiga’s divisions, Envirofor Preservers Ltd., which produces a variety of preserved wood items, like plywood and decking materials, saw a 19-percent decrease in production at its Ontario branch. Meanwhile, high housing prices in cities like Vancouver and Toronto left people waiting for the market to cool or reluctant to renovate right after buying.

Shipping

Sad faceLedcor Group of Companies

Revenue Change: –19.4%
Net Income: NA
Net Income Change: NA

Vancouver-based construction giant Ledcor Group encompasses many other sectors, including oil and gas, forestry, mining and transportation. As a result, it’s vulnerable to trends that affect multiple industries—rising crude prices, for example. And like any business, Ledcor can fall prey to unforeseen circumstances, like the halting of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, which it had signed onto for two stages of construction. That lack of expected income hurt the conglomerate’s bottom line in 2017.

Biggest Losers