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Fonterra will part pay early

Fonterra has confirmed its plan to pay an early dividend to help its farmers 'cash flows. A solid result in the first nine months of the year has enabled the company to confirm an early dividend payment of 10 cents per share to be made on June 7.Its intention is to declare another 10 cents per share in August, subject to financial performance continuing to support the current forecast earnings per share range of 45-55 cents per share.

The co-ops forecast dividend for the 2016 financial year continues to be 40 cents per share, it said. The performance over the first nine months reflected NZ ingredients continuing to achieve improved product mix returns and efficiencies, and improved gross margins in consumer and foodservice, supported by volume growth and lower input costs, it said. Fonterra says its full year earnings per share forecast range reflected a range of possible impacts through to the end of the financial year, including the completion of announced business sales in Australia, NZ ingredients sales and inventory profile, the ability to contract and ship late-season milk in difficult global market conditions and the deteriorating geopolitical situation in Brazil and Venezuela.

Dairy Herd Down to 6.5m

The NZ dairy cattle herd has declined after nine years of consecutive rises, reflecting the tough times the industry is experiencing. For the year ended June 30 2015, the number fell to 6.5 million, down 213,000 from the year before according to Statistics NZ.

All categories of livestock were down: sheep numbered 29.1 million (2% less), beef cattle 3.5 million (down 123,000), deer decreased 6% to 900,000 and pigs dropped by 10% to 571,000. That makes current dairy cattle numbers similar to 2013.

The statistics 2015 agricultural production survey showed the record high dairy cattle was 6.7 million in 2014. In the Waikato, there were 153,000 fewer dairy cattle than in 2014. Sheep numbers were now at just over six sheep for every New Zealander, down from 13 sheep per person 20 years ago.