Murray Goulburn in strong position

MURRAY Goulburn Co-operative’s  failed  bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter  (WCB) hasn’t dented its optimistic outlook for the dairy industry.

The farmer-controlled dairy company yesterday reported a strong first-half of the financial year with a 17.6 per cent rise in reported after-tax profit  of $61 million and 31 per cent increase in weighted-average farmgate milk price payments to suppliers.

However, the underlying profit of $47m was down 12.9 per cent due to the higher milk payments totalling $225m.

It will have another $51m to add to the full-year profit after relinquishing its 17.7 per cent stake in WCB when Canadian company Saputo won the fiercely-contested bidding war.

Managing director Gary Helou said the WCB  stake sale which occurred after December 31 was not included in first-half results and would be recognised in retained full-year earnings.

“The WCB sale has delivered cash proceeds of $93m and a gain before tax and costs of  $51m,”  his report said.

“Global demand for dairy foods remains strong and consequently prices for key dairy ingredients such as whole milk powder have stayed at near record levels for an unprecedented period,”  he said.

“Prices for cheese and butter have strengthened, resulting in higher returns. Continued strength of demand in international markets is likely to underpin the continuation of robust dairy ingredients prices in the next two quarters.”

 Revenue from international exports grew $121m and  overall sales revenue rose 18.3 per cent to $1.34 billion.

The co-operative yesterday also announced a fourth step-up farmgate price for the season of 18 cents a kilogram butterfat and 38 cents a kilogram protein.

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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