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Half-year positive for Carter Holt but outlook mixed

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Wednesday 18th October 2000

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Carter Holt Harvey says increased earnings across all its businesses helped grow profit by more than 200% for the six months to the end of September.

Net earnings for the half-year were $176 million compared with $56 million for the same period last year. A four-cents per share interim dividend has been declared, up one cent from the previous period.

CAH says the net earnings figure was the highest in five years, reflecting better pricing and increased volumes for logs, pulp, linerboard and panel products.

Production from the company's forest estates was a record 3.8 million tonnes, with forest division sales hitting $301 million compared with $237 million for the same period last year as a result of higher prices in all markets and 8% higher volume.

In May the company paid A$330 million for an Australian wood panels business, which it says has been trading above expectations. Of the wood products' division's $56 million earnings before interest and tax, $30 million came from the new Aussie business.

In the company's pulp, paper and tissue division higher export prices and record production for pulp and paper gave a much improved half-year result, recording ebit of $79 million compared with just $5 million last year. However tissue's earnings for the first half of the year were significantly lower than for the same period last year due to the impact of higher pulp prices and weaker exchange rates.

Carter Holt says overall the immediate outlook for the remainder of the financial year is mixed with Asian markets positive and the lower dollar increasing returns in local currency. It says the Australian economy is fundamentally strong, but housing and commercial construction markets have slowed since July, and the New Zealand domestic economy has weakened.

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