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Moa warns FY loss could be $6 mln, undertakes strategic review

Monday 4th November 2013

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Moa Group, the boutique beer maker which raised $16 million in a float last year, expects to post a bigger annual loss than flagged in its offer document after saying it would miss its sales forecast and its board will embark on a strategic review to try and improve its profitability.

The Auckland-based company anticipates it will post a loss of between $5 million and $6 million in the 12 months ending March 31, 2014, at least twice the forecast loss of $2.5 million in its 2013 prospectus. The profit warning comes after the brewer said it would miss its sales forecast by 30 percent, blaming its distributor, Treasury Wine Estates, for failing to deliver on the agreed targets.

Moa's board and management are considering "a range of strategic initiatives to improve the overall profitability and viability of the business model in each of its markets and in terms of its manufacturing capability, both for the immediate and medium terms," it said in a statement.

The brewer, headed by the founder of vodka maker 42Below Geoff Ross, has since switched its model to distribute directly to wholesaler Tasman Allied Liquor through third-party logistics providers.

The company's local margins were hit by "a lack of focus and targeting on the higher margin Reserve and Estate ranges" while its US market has struggled from the strong kiwi dollar.

Moa is now putting more emphasis on Australia over the next six to 12 months after deciding it was a more attractive market than previously thought.

"We now expect that Australian FY14 volumes should outperform our August expectation but that US volumes may be slightly behind," the company said. "It is expected that overs and unders between these two markets should approximately balance out."

An appeal of its consent to expand its Marlborough brewery has thrown another spanner in the works for Moa, and it is rethinking its manufacturing options for the coming year as it deals with capacity constraints.

The brewer will release its first-half result on Nov. 19.

The shares fell 1.2 percent to 80 cents on Friday, and have slid 37 percent this year. The stock listed at $1.25 last year.

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