T&G Global lifts first-half operating profit 40% on improvements in pipfruit, international produce
By Tina Morrison
Aug. 9 (BusinessDesk) - T&G Global, New Zealand's biggest fresh produce grower, distributor, marketer and exporter, posted a 40 percent jump in first-half operating profit due to improved performances from its pipfruit and international produce businesses, its two largest units.
Operating profit, which gauges the underlying performance of the business, rose to $10.4 million in the six months ended June 30, from $7.5 million in the year earlier period, the Auckland-based company said in a statement.
Pipfruit, T&G's largest unit which grows, packs, stores, sells and markets pipfruit worldwide, lifted operating profit to $13.1 million from $11.8 million. The unit benefited from an earlier harvest in 2018, resulting in fruit moving into the market quicker than the same period a year earlier, and the division was also able to take advantage of European apple shortages caused by frosts in 2017. Still, those gains were offset by a lack of export quality fruit impacting sales in North America where smaller fruit drove prices lower, it said.
The company's second-largest unit, which trades produce other than pipfruit worldwide, increased operating profit to $2.1 million from $1 million. The unit, which sources product from New Zealand, Australia, North America, South America and Europe, lifted sales of produce exported from South America, particularly grapes, mangoes, and cherries. Improvements were also seen in Australian export grapes and asparagus due to better weather conditions than in the prior year and there was an increase in sales in Pacific Island markets due to stronger relationships being fostered with key retailers, it said.
Meanwhile, T&G's New Zealand produce business turned to an operating loss of $648,000 from a profit of $4 million a year earlier even as revenue rose $3.5 million to $111.9 million, which the company said reflected exceptionally high prices and margins in the year earlier period.
"Operating profit has been affected by unusually low prices experienced by the Covered Crop business unit early in 2018 and lower production volumes of high value sweet tomato varieties," it said. "This combined with the loss of a blueberry harvest because of rains experienced in Kerikeri have been the major drivers of the reduction in operating profit."
T&G Global has turned its focus to growing its core businesses, which led it to divest several non-core businesses and investments during the latest period, including the sale of ENZAFoods to Cedenco Foods New Zealand and its Kerikeri-based kiwifruit orchards, post-harvest facilities, and business assets to Seeka. The company held cash and cash equivalents of $47.1 million at its June 30 balance date, up from $33 million a year earlier, according to its accounts.
The remaining operations of its processed foods business posted an operating loss of $632,000 from a loss of $703,000 a year earlier as revenue slipped to $13.8 million from $19.1 million which the company said was due mainly to the Australia Fruitmark business losing supply contracts, changes in manufacturers production, and a greater targeting of higher value, higher margin products.
Shares in the company, which is 74 percent owned by Germany's BayWa, fell 3.1 percent to $3.10, having slipped 3 percent over the past year.