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PGG Wrightson eyes another retail record

NZN 14/06/2016 Paul McBeth

PGG Wrightson has raised its earnings guidance, saying its retail unit is likely to beat last year's record result, although the rural services firm expects 2017 to be tough.

Earnings are expected to be between $65 million and $68m in the year ending June 30, up from a previous forecast for ebitda of $61m to $67m, the Christchurch-based company said on Wednesday.

That's still down from $69.6m a year earlier due to the slump in dairy prices eroding farmers' incomes.

Wrightson says its retail unit will beat last year's record operating ebitda with horticulture and beef sectors making up for the dairy downturn, while its seed and grain business will deliver higher earnings as its Australasian customers offset weaker South American results.

Wrightson had warned that flooding in Uruguay posed a risk to earnings, but has downgraded its assessment of the threat.

"At the group level, our operating ebitda for the year to 30 June 2016 will reflect two opposing forces," chief executive Mark Dewdney said.

"On the one hand tougher market conditions, particularly in the New Zealand dairy sector and in South America; on the other, the hard work we are putting into improving and growing PGW continues to pay off and we are benefiting from our market position in the agri-sectors that have been performing strongly."

Mr Dewdney said he expected the 2017 year would remain challenging with dairy farmers facing their first unprofitable season and the lingering uncertainty as to how quickly Uruguay will recover from the recent floods.

"Despite these challenges we believe we can still continue to grow market share and margins in many of the sectors in which we operate," he said.

Wrightson shares last traded at 38 cents and have declined 8.4 per cent so far this year.

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