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Turners & Growers narrows 1H loss, writes down orchards

Turners & Growers narrows 1H loss, writes down orchard values

Feb. 28 (BusinessDesk) - Turners & Growers, the fruit marketer controlled by Germany's BayWa Aktiengellschaft, narrowed its first-half loss after taking another writedown on the value of its kiwifruit orchards from the outbreak of Psa vine bacteria and taking a more downbeat view on its apple orchards.

The Auckland-based company made a loss of $15.3 million, or 13.1 cents per share, in the six months ended Dec. 31, from a loss of $18.9 million, or 17.2 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. That included a $29 million impairment charge, and was slightly smaller than the $16 million to $19 million loss it signalled in December. Sales rose 3.7 percent to $669.1 million.

The company pulled out about 20 hectares of kiwifruit orchards last year after finding the Psa bacteria, and today said "strict controls are in place to contain the bacteria."

The board didn't declare a dividend. The shares rose 2 percent to $1.53, having shed 9.1 percent this year.

Chairman Laus Josef Lutz said early trading in 2013 is "slightly above budget", without giving any further guidance.

T&G reported higher returns from its pipfruit exports on lower volumes as it implemented a currency hedging regime and cut supply chain costs. Export sales rose to $359 million from $314.2 million, though its segment profit of $2.9 million was smaller than the $7.6 million in 2011 due to an impairment charge on kiwifruit plant variety rights and a bad debt provision.

The domestic business reported a 6.4 percent fall in external revenue to $143.5 million and a 70 percent slide in operating profit to $1.5 million due to an oversupply of imported produce.

Processing sales rose 5.5 percent to $57.2 million and profit gained 22 percent to $3.3 million, growing its sales of fruit ingredients products.

The growing operations reported a loss of $22.8 million on sales of $45 million on the writedowns to its kiwifruit orchards and apple orchards.


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