AGRANA – Successful First Quarter of 2004|05Date: 15.07.2004
AGRANA’s revenues during the first quarter of the current financial year (1 March through 31 May 2004) were 18 per cent up on the year, and profit from operating activities grew by 14 per cent. First-quarter consolidated earnings were 21.5 per cent up on the year, giving per-share earnings of € 1.27, or € 0.23 more than in the first quarter of 2003|04.
The European Union was enlarged by the addition of 10 new member-states on 1 May 2004. That political act gave added significance to AGRANA’s investments in its core sugar and starch segments in Central and Eastern Europe since 1990—undertaken in anticipation of EU accession by the countries in the region—as well as confirming the economic soundness of those investments.
The EU Commission published a proposal for reform of the European Union’s sugar CMO on 14 July. The proposal advocates a cut in sugar quotas and an increase in isoglucose quotas combined with a reduction in the intervention price and its simultaneous transformation into a reference price as well as a cut in the beet price in conjunction with the abolition of production refunds. It is not yet possible to gauge the proposal’s probable effect on market prices. However, AGRANA’s position is solid thanks to diversification (sugar, starch, fruit) and its strength in regional markets.
First-quarter sugar sales by volume were up on the year both in Austria and in the sugar markets of the AGRANA International subsidiaries. The world market price of white sugar also recovered, and the US dollar simultaneously strengthened.
First-quarter starch revenues in Austria were nearly 10 per cent up on the year thanks to optimization of the product mix and higher prices, albeit combined with a small drop in volumes. First-quarter revenues reported by the Tandarei starch factory in Romania were 17 per cent up on 2003|04 as both volumes and prices developed well.
In May 2004, AGRANA purchased the stake in Steirische Agrarbeteiligungsgesellschaft m.b.H. held by Milchverarbeitung „Desserta“ reg.Gen.m.b.H. As a result, we now hold a 54 per cent stake in this majority shareholder of Steirerobst AG, which will thus become a fully consolidated member of the AGRANA Group as of the second quarter of the current financial year. Steirerobst AG developed better this year than last in volume terms, but margins were slightly depressed.
As for AGRANA’s takeover of Atys, an appeal was lodged against the prohibition by Germany’s Bundeskartellamt (federal office of fair trading).
Vallø Saft A/S plans to boost sales by opening up new regional markets.
The first quarter of the current financial year developed as follows:
|€mn applying IFRS||Q1 2004|05||Q1 2003|04|
|Profit from operating activities||19.2||16.9
|Profit before tax||17.2||16.1
|Capital expenditure on tangible non-current assets during Q1||5.0||5.0
|Capital expenditure on tangible non-current assets during year||Planned: 62.9||28.5|
In the light both of EU enlargement and the addition of Steirerobst AG to the consolidated AGRANA Group as of the second quarter of 2004|05, we are targeting an increase in full-year revenues to € 980 million during the 2004|05 financial year. In view of competitive pressures in all our markets, we will be prioritizing the enhancement of efficiency at every level. We should be able to increase profit from operating activities by about 10 per cent this financial year.