AGRANA – Successful First Half of 2004/05Date: 15.10.2004
Sales revenues during the first half of the current financial year (1 March through 31 August 2004) increased by 9.9 per cent to € 472.4 million, and first-half profit from operating activities grew by 5.1 per cent to € 40 million. Consolidated earnings for the period were € 5.7 million or 22 per cent up on the year at € 31.7 million, giving per-share earnings of € 2.87 (2003/04: € 2.36).
The group’s performance in the first half of the current financial year:
|€mn applying IFRS||1st Half
| + (-) Change
|Profit from operating activities||40.0||38.0||5.1%|
|Profit before income tax||33.5||26.7||25.5%|
|Capital expenditure on tangible non-current assets
|Capital expenditure on tangible non-current assets
|Planned: 62.9||Planned: 51.8||21.4%|
AGRANA integrated Steirerobst AG into its fully consolidated companies group at the beginning of the second quarter (i.e. as of 1 June 2004) after having taken over 54 per cent of Steirische Agrarbeteiligungsgesellschaft m.b.H. in March 2004.
Further acquisitions took place in the Fruit Division:
In August 2004, Atys took over Dirafrost Frozen Fruits Industries N.V., Belgium. The granting of approval by the competition authorities in October 2004 put the contract of sale into force.
Vallø Saft signed the contracts for the acquisition of Germany’s Wink Group in Bingen, Germany, on 11 October 2004. The takeover is subject to approval by the competition authorities.
The EU Commission’s communication for the reform of the European sugar CMO from 2005/06 published in mid-July 2004 was rejected by the majority of agricultural ministers on 19 July 2004. It was decided to have the proposals examined by an expert committee. The EU Commission intends to present the legal text in the spring of 2005.
AGRANA’s sugar factories in Hohenau, Tulln and Leopoldsdorf (all in Lower Austria) began beet processing at the beginning of October. Assuming a per-hectare of 62 metric tons, the sugar-beet harvest is expected to total roughly 2.8 million metric tons (last year: 2.5 million metric tons). Given a higher sugar yield than last year, sugar output will come to about 450,000 metric tons. The EU Commission has set Austria’ sugar production quota for 2004/05 at 387,326 metric tons (last year: 381,550 metric tons). In other words, no declassification (flexible quota cut) has taken place. As a result, AGRANA’s sugar output of 450,000 metric tons from the new harvest will exceed the quota by 62,700 metric tons or 16 per cent.
The beet campaigns at the AGRANA International sugar factories in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia began in mid-September. AGRANA’s six sugar factories in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia will be processing roughly 2.2 million metric tons of beet (last year: 1.7 metric tons). Including 185,000 metric tons of sugar refined from unrefined imported sugar in Romania, sugar output will total 517,000 metric tons (last year: 389,000 metric tons). AGRANA will not be processing any sugar beet in Romania this year.
The Gmünd factory began starch potato processing on 16 August 2004. The harvest will total about 210,000 metric tons (last year: 150,000 metric tons). Given a starch content of over 19 per cent, which would be well above the long-term average (last year: 18.3 per cent), the factory expects to produce 49,000 metric tons of potato starch. Consequently, we will for the first time in many years be using the entirety of the Austrian EU potato starch quota of 47,691 metric tons. The increase in contracted volumes was facilitated by AGRANA’s assumption of farmers’ potato transportation costs. Alongside 210,000 metric tons of starch potatoes, AGRANA will also be processing some 16,000 metric tons of food potatoes. Those figures include a total of roughly 7,500 metric tons of organic potatoes for use in starches and foodstuffs.
The Aschach maize starch factory will be operating at full capacity this financial year and will process a total of 280,000 metric tons of maize. Thanks to the good harvest outlook, maize prices have normalized this year.
Our Hungrana isoglucose and maize starch factory in Hungary began its wet maize campaign in mid-September. It expects to process 70,000 metric tons of wet maize. The cost of maize also fell sharply in Hungary.
Our maize starch factory in Tandarei, Romania, also began processing wet maize as of the new harvest. Both output and sales have been above-plan.
On 28 July 2004, AGRANA and Butler Capital Partners, Paris, put into force the contracts for the takeover of the Atys Group based in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, France, by signing the closing declaration.
In August 2004, Atys took over Dirafrost Frozen Fruits Industries N.V., Belgium. Approval by the competition authorities in October 2004 put the contract of sale into force. Dirafrost is a supplier of frozen fruits, fruit salads and fruit purées. The company and its 320 employees recorded revenues of € 42 million in 2003. Dirafrost has factories in Belgium, Serbia and Morocco.
On 11 October 2004, Vallø Saft signed the contracts for the acquisition of Germany’s Wink Group in Bingen, Germany. The takeover is subject to approval by the competition authorities. Wink is a leading European manufacturer of fruit juice concentrates. The Wink Group and its 200 employees recorded revenues of € 36 million during the 2002/03 financial year (1 September 2002 through 31 August 2003). The Wink Group’s factories are located in Europe’s prime apple growing areas. It has one factory each in Poland and Romania and two in Hungary.
Steirerobst AG’s major fruit preparations factory project in Russia is making rapid progress. The factory will begin production as planned in mid-2005.
In the light of current developments, our full-year sales revenue projection remains unchanged compared with the end of Q1 2004/05 at approximately € 980 million (€ 114 million or 13 percent up on 2003/04). We expect our full-year profit from operating activities to advance by 10 per cent to roughly € 85 million (2003/04: € 76.8 million).