Posts Tagged ‘Dean Hamilton’

Meat companies and union adapt to changing times

March 8, 2017

The heyday of union representation in the meat industry was more than a quarter of a century ago, but the union still has good coverage across the industry. The decline of stock volumes, closure of the old monolithic single shift plants, shorter seasons and the Employment Contracts Act have all contributed to a massive reduction in the number of meat workers. This has had a dramatic impact on the sheer number of union members employed in the industry, but as a general rule the MWU has good representation across most companies. (more…)

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Silver Fern Farms comes crashing back to earth

January 19, 2017

Chairman Rob Hewett wasn’t joking early last year when he warned that the 2016 result would not be in line with budget. The actual result was a $30.6 million after tax loss compared with a profit of $24.5 in 2015, although a significant part of the latest year’s result was attributable to a $22.4 million non-cash accounting writedown related to the anticipated Shanghai Maling investment. Nevertheless, at a more comparable level the net pre-tax operating profit remained in negative territory, producing a $7.5 million loss against $30.8 million in the previous year. (more…)

Silver Fern Farms shareholders vote conclusively in favour

August 17, 2016

The long awaited special meeting finally took place this afternoon with the company’s desired outcome. 80.4% of shareholders voting voted in favour of the Shanghai Maling deal, a small reduction from the 82% that voted in favour last October. (more…)

Silver Fern Farms announces contract extension and new special meeting date

July 2, 2016

Silver Fern Farms have issued two new media releases announcing a revised completion date for the contract with Shanghai Maling and a new date for the shareholder requisitioned meeting. (more…)

Season has contrasting impact on Silver Fern Farms and Alliance

November 29, 2015

The two biggest meat processors had contrasting experiences during the 2015 season to judge by their annual results and accompanying comments. There is no doubt Silver Fern Farms found life easier than Alliance, with respect to the year in question. SFF must also have heaved an enormous sigh of relief after its improvement from the previous three years. (more…)

New era or more of the same?

October 28, 2015

I have already pinned my colours to the mast by saying the JV between Silver Fern Farms and Shanghai Maling will be good for the meat industry and New Zealand as a whole, whereas some commentators don’t appear to share my enthusiasm. Some companies are also less than ecstatic about what it might mean for future competitive behaviour. (more…)

Longer season and drought affect Silver Ferns’ banking headroom

July 3, 2015

Silver Fern Farms have been forced to take what CEO Dean Hamilton calls a prudent approach to livestock procurement. This is code for being hard up against the company’s banking facility, directly as a result of greater livestock availability. A longer season in the North Island and pressure from drought in North Canterbury are responsible for this situation. (more…)

Come on John, give them a break!

February 18, 2015

The last time I dared to question MIE’s desired reform of the meat industry, John McCarthy accused me of bias and warned me to watch out, if we are unlucky enough to run into each other. So this column will almost certainly result in another attack on my character and more threats to my personal safety! (more…)

Silver Fern Farms release audited result just before Christmas

December 24, 2014

The delayed and much anticipated final result for Silver Fern Farms’ 2014 year has made it into the public arena in time for Christmas. Although it has squeaked in just above breakeven for the year at $1.8 million pre-tax and $0.5 million after tax, this is worse than the original guidance of $5-7 million announced at the end of October. (more…)

Two exciting years in a row

December 20, 2014

2014 and 2015 promise to be two of the most exciting years the red meat industry has seen for a long time and for a change the news is not all bad. There are some clouds around, but also silver linings like better beef and lamb prices, improved profitability and the possibility of positive developments in the industry’s structure.

 

At long last, after a slow start, there are plenty of signs the industry as a whole has recognised the need for change to address the main challenges of inadequate prices, declining sheep and beef numbers and excess capacity which have inexorably brought about land use conversions to more profitable activities.

 

The launch of the Red Meat Sector Strategy three years ago signalled the beginning of the change process which B+LNZ and the meat companies have adopted with support from the government funded Primary Growth Partnership projects. MIE has also gained traction during the past two years, having succeeded in gaining representation on the boards of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance as well as obtaining funding to develop its own industry reform strategy.

 

All these events and programmes have been happening against the background of an improving domestic economy and uneven global economic performance with Asia and North America doing better than Europe where political unrest has hindered the recovery. China has been the success story of the past year for the New Zealand red meat sector, providing an alternative export market for beef and particularly sheepmeat.

 

From the perspective of sector morale, it isn’t doing any harm to see sheep and beef returns outperforming the dairy industry for once. In spite of some retreat from the price peaks in the spring when product volumes were low, it is almost inevitable these returns will be better than the dairy payout during 2015 and quite possibly 2016 as well. The lower New Zealand dollar will be a help too.

 

But for all these encouraging signs, it won’t be all plain sailing for the red meat industry next year. There is already the strong possibility of drought conditions on the East Coast and some other regions, while trading conditions in major markets are uncertain. China has slowed, while many EU countries remain in recession and the Russian economy is in dire straits.

 

Meat processors and exporters all returned to profit during the 2014 year, although procurement prices will have to regain a greater sense of reality than has been the case in recent weeks, if 2015 is to allow a repeat performance. While lamb slaughter volumes are forecast to be about 20 million, not as low as 2011-12, but fewer than last season, the low milk payout will mean plenty of cull cows to process. If the US price holds up, the beef processors should be able to make hay to offset excessive lamb procurement costs.

 

Intriguingly both Silver Fern Farms and Alliance begin the year with new Chief Executives who will oversee some significant industry developments which will undoubtedly affect the companies they manage.

 

There are at least three big questions for the red meat sector in 2015:

  1. What will be the findings of MIE’s meat sector reform paper when it is published in February;
  2. Will farmers be prepared or financially able to invest further in ownership of the value chain; and
  3. What will be the outcome of Goldman Sachs’ investment recommendations to SFF’s board?

 

My suspicion is the key to the future shape and structure of the sector lies in strategic developments in the country’s largest red meat processor and exporter. The announcement has already been made about dividing SFF into product based business units which provides the opportunity to sell them individually, quite possibly to an overseas investor.

 

CEO Dean Hamilton has been very open about the company’s need for $100 million capital to reduce debt and allow further investment in its value added business. He also admitted in last week’s Farmers Weekly it was unlikely farmers would be able to stump up much of this capital in spite of a supportive response from supplier meetings. Five years ago the company succeeded in obtaining $22 million from suppliers invested in $1 shares which are now worth 40 cents, so there isn’t much chance of getting nearly five times the investment from existing shareholders, many of whom will already have lost 60% of their initial investment.

 

Unless Alliance or another local investor is willing to buy all or part of the SFF business which is unlikely, the alternative options appear inevitably to be from overseas. An external entrant to the sector would not welcome any constraints on its right to expand capacity. This would effectively derail any industry reform involving farmer investment in owning the value chain that MIE may envisage or that might be agreed as a result of the moratorium proposal.

 

Therefore 2015 will be exciting for participants and fascinating for observers with a strong probability we will all be much clearer about the future by this time next year.