A slight uptick in Benchmark’s (BMK) revenues and an improved half-year gross margin were set against increased depreciation charges and impairments, while encouraging numbers from the aquaculture group's genetics division were offset by lower revenue in the advanced nutrition business, held in check by a difficult shrimp market.
Yet perhaps the most significant developments came in the run-up to the first-half release, when it was announced that the group had successfully completed a NOK850m (£78m) refinancing and was set to take full control of its Chile-based salmon breeding joint venture with AquaChile. The latter development entails the return of Benchmark’s original $16.3m (£13m) equity investment, together with its intellectual property rights, the genetic stock and resources to operate the facility.
In Asia – a key growth market – trials of the group’s disease resistant shrimp continued to demonstrate positive clinical results, with a post period-end agreement signed with regional partners for the construction of a related multiplication centre in Thailand. May saw the commercial opening of a technically advanced salmon egg facility in Norway, while the country is also playing host to trials for the group’s next generation sea lice treatment.
Prior to these figures, Pareto Securities forecasts an adjusted earnings loss per share of 2.8p for the September 2019 year-end, improving to a negative 1p a share in FY2020.
|BENCHMARK HOLDINGS (BMK)|
|ORD PRICE:||39p||MARKET VALUE:||£218m|
|TOUCH:||38-40p||12-MONTH HIGH:||65p||LOW: 39p|
|DIVIDEND YIELD:||nil||PE RATIO:||na|
|NET ASSET VALUE:||65p||NET DEBT:||18%|
|Half-year to 31 Mar||Turnover (£m)||Pre-tax profit (£m)||Earnings per share (p)||Dividend per share (p)|
|*Includes intangible assets of £316m, or 57p a share|