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Fonterra cuts 2012 payout forecast

Monday 12th March 2012

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Fonterra Cooperative Group cut its forecast payout for the 2011/12 season, citing the rising New Zealand dollar, declining global prices of commodities and increased production from Northern Hemisphere rivals.

The world’s biggest exporter of dairy products lowered its farmgate milk price by 15 cents to $6.35 a kilogram, while keeping its so-called distributable profit in a range of 40 cents to 50 cents a share, it said in a statement today. That lowered the total forecast payout to a range of $6.75 to $6.85.

The revised forecast follows a run of weaker prices in the Auckland-based company’s fortnightly GlobalDairyTrade auctions, which amounts to a 5.7 percent drop in its benchmark GDT-Trade Weighted Index of 5.7 percent since Dec. 13, when Fonterra last gave an estimate for the payout.

“We think dairy commodity prices are likely to remain under some pressure through to mid-2012,” said chief executive Theo Spierings. “While we have had a strong start to the season in New Zealand, with record milk flows, we are also seeing higher milk production levels in the US and Europe.”

The New Zealand dollar fell to 81.79 US cents from 82.01 cents immediately before the announcement.

The impact of increased global milk production is partly mitigated by the level of international demand for milk powder, he said.

Among factors weighing on global commodity prices are the fallout from Greece’s debt crisis, increased tensions in the Middle East and China’s move last week to cut its economic growth target to 7.5 percent from 8 percent, he said.

Prices of dairy products fell for the third straight sale on the GlobalDairyTrade platform last week, a sale that immediately followed China’s gross domestic product target revision.

The GDT-TWI Price Index fell 0.9 percent compared to the last sale two weeks earlier. The average winning price declined to US$3,576 a metric tonne. The price of whole milk powder fell 0.3 percent to US$3,409.

The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Commodity Index was last at 317.61 and has fallen 9.4 percent in the past 12 months.

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