Exports boost Turners & Growers profit

MICHAEL FOREMAN
Last updated 11:06 28/02/2014

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Fruit and vegetable firm Turners & Growers has pulled off a dramatic turnaround by delivering a full year profit of $16.2 million.

The result, driven by a massive boost in exports, reverses a $15.3m loss last year.

The NZX-listed company said revenue for the 12 months to December 31 rose 8.8 per cent to $734m, from $669m the previous year.

While the 2012 result was dented by $29m in asset writedowns, exports have been the key to Turners & Growers' profitability this year.

The export segment profit has risen five-fold from $2.9m in 2012 to $15.6m. This was mainly due to better market conditions, access to new markets and customers, and cost reductions, the company said.

Turners & Growers' domestic business experienced tough market conditions in the second quarter of year with low margins on imported produce and weak prices for tomatoes, chairman Klaus Lutz said.

However, strong performance in the final quarter, especially in bananas, pipfruit and crates, helped achieve an increase in the domestic segment's profit to $3.6m compared with a profit of $1.5m in the previous year.

Depressed prices for apple juice concentrate, combined with a strong New Zealand dollar and storage constraints associated with the unusual warm weather in autumn, all contributed to a loss in the company's processing segment, ENZAFoods, which posted a $3.1m segment loss compared with a $3.3m profit last year.

While the long and warm New Zealand autumn resulted in lower tomato prices in the second quarter, Lutz said Turners & Growers apple orchards' performance in 2013 was "outstanding" in the yield and quality of fruit.

"Increased price expectations and improvement in growing conditions resulted in an upward valuation of the biological assets which contributed to a very good result," he said.

While citrus crops were small in volume and size for almost all varieties generating lower margins than 2012, the kiwifruit crop was higher in volume and quality.

Successful marketing by Delica in Australia helped to return a growing operations segment profit of $6.7m, compared with a $22.8m loss in 2012.

Basic earnings per share was 13.81 cents, compared to negative 13.07 cents in 2012. No dividend was declared.

Lutz said early 2014 trading was within expectations and the business was progressing well with the implementation of a new corporate strategy.

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