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Blis finally cracks an annual profit after almost 18 years of public life

Tuesday 28th May 2019

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Blis Technologies reported a maiden profit, almost 18 years since listing, and the probiotic maker expects to chalk up a bigger profit in the coming year on growing international demand for its probiotic products. 

The Dunedin-based company reported a profit of $381,000 in the 12 months ended March 31, turning around a loss of $1 million a year earlier. Revenue climbed 59 percent to $5.3 million, with double-digit growth in New Zealand, the Asia Pacific, and North America. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $896,000, turning around an ebitda-loss of $422,000 a year earlier.

Blis listed in July 2001 and chair Tony Offen describes the profit achievement as a "significant turning point" for the company, which has retained losses totalling $34 million since it was founded in 2000. 

"While we are very pleased with the financial progress made to date, and have been encouraged by the early results from a number of new market launch initiatives, challenges in the 2019 year included dealing with long lead times to progress new customer initiatives, overcoming delays in new regulatory approvals and managing targeted accelerated growth opportunities on a limited budget," Offen said. 

The company forecasts sustained profitable growth for the year ending March 31, 2020, but it is still forecasting a flat ebitda in line with the $896,000 just reported. 

Operating cash flow was a net outflow of $583,000 in the year, compared to a net inflow of $118,000 and it scaled back investment spending to $130,000 from $476,000. It held cash and equivalents of $924,000 at March 31, down from $1.1 million a year earlier. 

The company also had working capital of $2.3 million, which the board deemed sufficient to meet its needs over the next 12 months when signing off on the accounts on a going concern basis. 

Blis was formed to commercialise probiotic bacteria for use in consumer products for oral health, colds and flu. In 2000, it bought Otago University's rights to Salivaricin B, a substance which acts as a natural antibiotic to control strep throat.

The firm has had a few false dawns in hitting profitability, but last month said its annual revenue and underlying earnings beat guidance on strong orders across all its international markets. 

Australian sales got a boost from an exclusive distribution agreement with iNova Pharmaceuticals, making Blis Technologies' expanded product range available in 5,000 pharmacies. Blis said iNova is currently evaluating where to launch the next phase of international expansion into certain African and Asian markets. 

Blis said the maiden profit showed the firm in a strong position, not just with a wider revenue mix, but also its internal capability and the regulatory approvals it's gained. 

"Key growth opportunities for the company in FY20 include Canada, China cross-border and daigou markets, market expansion in Asia and Africa with iNova Pharmaceuticals and expansion of our online sales," it said. 

The shares rose 5 percent, or 0.2 of a cent, to 4.2 cents. They've more than doubled so far this year, making it the second-best performer on the S&P/NZX All Index. 


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