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Seeka first-half profit plunges 92 percent on Psa impact

Friday 6th September 2013

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Seeka Kiwifruit Industries, the fruit grower and coolstore and packhouse operator, reported a 92 percent dive in first-half profit as the outbreak of Psa-V vine bacteria takes its heaviest toll on certain kiwifruit varieties.

Net profit sank to $672,000, or 5 cents per share, in the six months ended June 30, from $8.5 million, or 59 cents, a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. Revenue dropped 16 percent to $67 million on declining kiwifruit volumes. The most dramatic was the slump in Zespri Hot16A gold to production of just 155,000 trays, compared with 1.2 million trays a year earlier.

"The financial year 2013 was predicted to be a tough year, perhaps the low point for the kiwifruit industry," the company said. "Production volumes have reduced because of the substantial removal of Zespri Hort16A gold fruit and its replacement with Zespri G3, a more Psa-V resistant variety."

Local kiwifruit growers have been struggling with the outbreak of Pseudomonas syringae PV actinidiae three years ago, infecting about 40 percent of the nation's orchards and devastating the gold fruit varieties.

Seeka's board declared an interim dividend of 6 cents per share, payable on Sept. 27, with a Sept. 20 record date. The infrequently traded shares jumped 11 percent to $2.05 yesterday, when the company announced plans to invest in a coolstore in Malaysia.

The company's post-harvest operations, which include the packing and coolstore businesses, reported a 21 percent drop in revenue to $40.2 million, and a 75 percent slide in earnings before interest and tax to $2.6 million. The orchard operations showed a 7 percent fall in revenue to $25.2 million, and a 56 percent drop in earnings to $2.4 million.

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