BEGA Cheese has increased its holding in Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB).
The NSW-based processor has added another 770,000 shares to its holding, taking its stake in WCB from 16.1 to 17.1 per cent.
It’s the second increase in Bega’s holding since it bought into WCB with a 15 per cent stake in November 2010 through a revenue-raising share issue.
Bega announced the latest increase in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) on Thursday.
The latest acquisition was made through off-market trading. At Thursday’s ASX closing price, the bundle would have been worth $2.7 million.
Bega and WCB have performed very differently so far this season.
Two weeks ago, WCB announced a $15 million profit downgrade and no dividend payment for the first half of the 2012/13 season. Since then its share price has declined from the $3.90 range to Thursday’s close of $3.50.
Prior to the profit downgrade, its share price had gradually climbed from the $3.50 range in January and early February to hit $3.95 on February 27.
Meanwhile, Bega has posted a 14 per cent increase in first-half earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.
Its earnings per share lifted to 14.9 per cent.
Bega’s revenue has increased by 9.6 per cent and it announced an interim dividend of 3.5 per cent.
Bega’s share price has lifted steadily in recent months, climbing from $1.70 in September to hit $2.71 last week before correcting back to $2.60 this week.
Bega has expanded rapidly in recent years, buying up the De Cicco cheese manufacturing plant in Coburg and Tatura Milk Industries in the Goulburn Valley, as well as its WCB holding.
The company has also made a push into the south-west supplier base recently.