(Reuters) -New Zealand’s Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd reported a 50% jump in first-half profit on Thursday, helped by higher prices for its dairy products and strong margins across its cheese and protein divisions, sending its shares higher.
Shares of Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund posted a record jump, surging as much as 9.8%, while the broader market traded lower. Shares of the co-operative climbed 2.7% to their highest since last October.
The dairy giant, which controls almost a third of global dairy trade, also said it expects to earn between 55 NZ cents and 75 NZ cents per share for fiscal 2023, from an earlier forecast of 50 to 70 NZ cents per share.
Favourable margins in the dairy co-operative’s protein portfolio during the half year offset lockdown-driven weakness in demand from China.
“This lift in earnings is thanks to our co-op’s scale and ability to move our farmer owners’ milk into products and markets where we’re seeing favourable prices ,” said Chief Executive Officer Miles Hurrell.
The world’s biggest dairy exporter reported normalised net profit after tax of NZ$546 million ($338.19 million) for the six months ended Dec. 31, compared with NZ$364 million a year earlier.
Fonterra declared an interim dividend of 10 NZ cents per share, compared with 5 NZ cents per share declared last year.
The Auckland-based dairy exporter flagged risks including the impact of recent weather events in New Zealand on supply chain and milk production for this financial year.
($1 = 1.6145 New Zealand dollars)
(Reporting by Upasana Singh and Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Rashmi Aich)