19 Oct 2021

Some companies post positive trading updates despite Covid-19 lockdowns

4:31 pm on 19 October 2021

Some leading companies are managing to shrug off the worst effects of Covid-19 lockdowns and report steady or improved earnings.

New Zealand Dollar Bar Graph (On blue background)

File image. Photo: 123RF

Trading updates to several annual meetings today show firms matching or increasing sales in the first few months of the new trading year.

Fletcher Building said lockdowns on both sides of the Tasman had interrupted construction projects, but trading overall had been solid.

"Trading either side of these lockdowns has been very solid, and at levels above the prior year, and provided New Zealand stays at these present lockdown levels or better, we would expect the trading conditions to remain above last year," chief executive Ross Taylor said in notes for presentation.

Its Australia business had been more subdued but was expected to rebound as restrictions are eased, and vaccination rates improved, he said

"This should then allow the present strong trading conditions to flow uninterrupted through our businesses for the balance of FY22 and beyond."

"We have a strong balance sheet, a favourable market outlook and remain well-positioned to drive ongoing performance and growth. We continue to target circa 10 percent EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) margin in financial year 2023," Taylor said.

Rural services business PGG Wrightson was another to report strong trading at the start of its new trading year.

Chairperson Rodger Finlay said its biggest trading months were still to come but the signs were positive, with strong showing for its livestock business, subdued trading for its wool operation, but a good performance for real estate.

"The ongoing uncertainties presented by Covid-19 and related operating restrictions, supply chain disruption and consequential market impacts continue to be a reason to be cautious about earnings projections."

Finlay said they expected operating earnings to be broadly in line with last year's $53 million.

Health and animal care company EBOS chief executive John Cullity said it appeared to be Covid-19 resistant judging by a lift in revenue in the September quarter.

"Group revenue and earnings grew at just over 10 percent ... [our] portfolio of businesses has proven to be very resilient throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, however lockdowns in New Zealand and Australia are evidence of the material uncertainties that exist and that may impact upon future trading performance."

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