Listed agribusiness Incitec Pivot Limited has reported a strong half-year performance which has confirmed the benefits of the merger last year between Incitec Fertilizers Ltd and Pivot Limited.
Incitec Pivot reported a net profit after tax (NPAT), including significant items, of $16.7 million for the half year ended 31 March 2004, compared with $1.3 million for Pivot Limited in the previous corresponding period.
NPAT excluding significant items for the half was $20.2 million, compared on a like-for-like basis with $5.1 million for the sum of the Incitec and Pivot fertiliser businesses in the corresponding period before the merger. Significant items were $3.6 million arising from previously indicated merger restructuring and implementation costs.
Incitec Pivot reported earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) and significant items - or trading profit - for the first half at $32 million. At 31 March 2004, net debt stood at $133.8 million and gearing was 18.5 per cent.
Directors declared an interim dividend of 29 cents per share fully franked. The company's maiden dividend will directly benefit Incitec Pivot's 38,000 small shareholders, many of them farmers in Australia's eastern and southern States.
Commenting on the half year performance, Managing Director and CEO Greg Witcombe said: "This is a strong result, underpinned by synergy cost savings flowing from the merger. These savings totalled $18 million before tax for the half year.
"The performance was further enhanced by improved margins from manufactured fertiliser products during the period."
Mr Witcombe said that the merger was now complete, positioning the company well for the future.
"We appreciate the strong support the merger has received from our rural business partners who operate agencies and dealerships across our market area," he said.
While Incitec Pivot had made a good start to the financial year, Mr Witcombe advised that, as usual, the full-year result depended on weather conditions for the crucial winter planting season.
"Because most of our earnings are delivered in the second half of our financial year, seasonal weather patterns have an impact on our full-year performance," he said.
"For example, the crucial winter crop plantings are dependent on rainfall patterns in autumn and early winter which will dictate demand for fertiliser."
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