23 Jun 2022

Fonterra lifts payout expectations on back of high dairy demand, strong US dollar

11:47 am on 23 June 2022

Fonterra has raised its forecast payout for the coming season to a record level as strong demand and favourable currency moves work in its favour.

Fonterra milk truck picking up Simon Mackle's milk.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The co-operative is forecasting a payout range between $8.75 to $10.25 a kilo of milk solids lifting its midpoint by 50 cents to a new high of $9.50.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell said the increased price reflected the milk supply and demand picture and the strong US dollar, which dairy products are priced in.  

"The strong earnings guidance for next financial year reflects an expected recovery in some of the co-op's key markets which have experienced margin pressures this financial year, coupled with ongoing favourable ingredients margins."  

Fonterra forecast an earnings payout from its commercial activities of 30c to 45c a share but warned of considerable volatility affecting its longer term outlook.

"A series of global events has changed some of the assumptions the co-operative's aspirations were based on," Hurrell said.

 "In particular, interest rates and inflation have lifted well above our assumptions, as have commodity prices in response to the continued strong demand for dairy.

"These near-term headwinds have the potential to impact some of the co-op's targets," Hurrell said.

"We're still on track for our 2030 financial targets, but the last few months have shown that there will be some bumps along the way. "

Dairy giant Fonterra has posted a substantial annual loss when it released its financial results.

Despite the strong forecast for next season, Fonterra is facing "some bumps along the way," chief executive Miles Hurrell says. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Last year Fonterra spelled out its long term aims, including returning $1 billion to shareholders, an average milk payout for the decade of $6.50-$7.50 a kilo of milk solid, and lifting its operating profit between 40-50 percent.

Hurrell said what happened beyond next year was considerably less certain, with a wide range of possible outcomes.

"As we look out to 2030, the fundamentals of dairy - in particular, New Zealand dairy - look strong and we continue to make good progress against our long-term aspirations.

"We are growing our high value, specialty ingredients business, with Active Living expected to deliver growth year-on-year. "

Hurrell said long serving senior executive Kelvin Wickham would be stepping down.

Forsyth Barr analyst Matt Montgomerie said the latest earnings guidance was positive.

"The guidance range is unsurprisingly wide reflecting the ongoing volatile backdrop but with elevated milk prices," Montgomerie said.

"We view this as a solid outcome, highlighting the ongoing robust earnings execution from the co-op."

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