Friday, 13th March 2020
Norish plc (AIM: NSH), is pleased to announce its results for the year ended 31 December 2019.
- Profit before tax increased by 20% to £2.4m (2018: £2m)
- Diluted adjusted Eps increased by 28% to 6.57p (2018: 5.13p)
- Group revenue decreased by 0.8% to £36.5m (2018: £36.8m)
- Operating margins increased to 7.5% (2018: 6.5%)
- Dividend increased by 5.6% to 1.90 €cent (2018: 1.80 €cent)
- Net debt was reduced from Stg£10.5m at start of year to Stg£9.7m at year end.
- Interest cover has increased to 7.9 times (2018: 6.1 times)
Diluted adjusted EPS is calculated using profit for the financial year from continuing operations as the measure of earnings. Comparative financial information has been restated following the adoption of IFRS 16 Leases.
Cold Store division
Cold Stores, which comprise by far our largest business activity saw sales increase by 10.2% or £1.4m, from £13.7m to £15.1m. This growth in revenue, saw divisional profits grow by 13.8%, from £2.9m to £3.3m.
The drivers of the growth in revenue, comprise a 6% increase in pallets handled, a 14% increase in blast frozen throughput, an improved stock turn (from 7.0 weeks to 6.6 weeks) and a slightly higher occupancy level. Occupancy increased from 94% in 2018, to 95% in 2019.
Power units consumed were higher by 1%, a creditable performance in the context of 14% growth in blast freezing volumes.
Sales at our sourcing division declined by 8.4% in 2019, compared with the same period in 2018, from £22.5m to £20.6m. Operating profit declined by a corresponding 33.3%, from £0.6m to £0.4m, reflecting trading uncertainty and currency fluctuations arising from the ongoing Brexit process.
The Group’s original investment in the main Sourcing subsidiary, Townview Foods, has been fully recouped and the structures are in place to continue to develop this business.
Our investment in dairy, whilst still in the development stage, is progressing well.
Cantwellscourt Farm's operating performance in 2019 was much improved on the prior year. Milk production was 56% ahead year on year, reflecting underlying improvement across the key operating metrics; production per cow, pasture grown and herd fertility. In the second half of the year, we also completed the conversion of the herd to 100% A2-protein - the result of an intensive program of genetic testing. The cost of conversion has been expensed through the income statement of the dairy division.
During 2018 the group decided to exit the Juice business for the ready to drinks market. A loss in the current year of £0.13m was incurred, compared to £0.39m last year.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 we remain optimistic for the year ahead.
Notwithstanding disruption in shipments to China year to date, we believe that activity in our cold store division will return to anticipated levels over the balance of the year. The fundamental market opportunity of facilitating exports of protein to China remains intact. Within our cold store business, our investment in robotics in the North West division is starting to deliver results.
Within our sourcing division we have added fish as a protein, and we expect to increase sales and improve on profitability.
Our subsidiary, Grass to Milk Company, remains on track to launch A2-protein based dairy products in targeted export markets in the second half of 2020. The business has allocated resources across technical, regulatory & nutrition workstreams along with investment in-market in order to successfully execute its commercial strategy. We believe the business is well placed to add value to our unique A2-protein milk supply.
The board recommends the payment of a final dividend of 1.90 €cent per share. This will be paid on 16 October 2020 to those shareholders on the register on the 25 September 2020. It will bring the total dividend in respect of the financial year to 1.90 €cent per share, against 1.80 €cent per share last year, an increase of 5.6%.
On behalf of the board, I would like to thank the management team and staff for their commitment and contribution in 2019.
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