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Conservative Sanford suddenly offers fishy profit

Friday 19th May 2000

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Poring over Sanford's result is usually a soporific job but this year's offering had Shoeshine sitting bolt upright.

The fisher's operating surplus ostensibly fell 14.5% to $29 million. But it seems it has, unannounced to the market, gone into the shipbroking business.

Included in the operating result, rather than as an abnormal or unusual gain, is a profit of $3.1 million from the sale of two ice trawlers. Without this peculiar treatment Sanford's surplus would have been down 24%, to $26 million.

This should trigger some interesting discussions with auditor KPMG, particularly as the company has flagged its intention to include a $4.6 million profit from the post balance date sale of the freezer ship San Aotea in the full year result.

Shoeshine was doubly surprised because Sanford has hitherto had a well-deserved reputation as the most crusty and conservative firm in the industry.

He also had difficulty swallowing some of its other offerings.

The profit drop was blamed mostly on a fall in orange roughy prices due, Sanford explained, to higher catches in the Indian Ocean.

Strangely, it seems to have been the only company affected - others have reported strong prices for the species all year.

Whatever, there was an inventory blowout - more dead fish in the freezer - that will bite Sanford back down the track.

The company worships at the "pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap" commodity altar and the only way to shift a growing pile of dead fish is to sell 'em cheaper.

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