First half year EBITA before exceptional items of €108.2 million, 15.0% higher than last year (H1 2013: € 94.1 million).
Animal Nutrition EBITA increased by 4.7 per cent to €59.6 million (H1 2013: €56.9 million) mainly as a result of a good performance in mature markets and due to continued focus on higher value-added nutritional solutions.
Fish Feed EBITA increased by 23.9 per cent to €43.5 million (H1 2013: €35.1 million) mainly driven by higher salmon feed volumes in Norway due to exceptional market circumstances and the contribution of the operating companies in Ecuador and Egypt which were acquired in 2013.
Compound Feed & Meat Iberia EBITA of €18.1 million was 31.2 per cent higher than last year (H1 2013: €13.8 million) mainly due to lower raw material prices and good chicken and pork meat markets.
Based on current trading conditions and barring any unforeseen circumstances Nutreco expects full year 2014 EBITA before exceptional items from continuing operations to be at least equal to 2013 (€256.3 million).
Commenting on the results, Knut Nesse, CEO Nutreco, said: "We are pleased to report a satisfying first half year operating result of € 108.2 million which has been achieved due to better performances in all segments.
"In Animal Nutrition the operating result was higher mainly due to improved performances in mature markets. Our focus on higher value-added nutritional solutions that support the sustainability and profitability of our customers also contributed to this result. Our four key themes in animal nutrition R&D are young animal nutrition, animal health and welfare, feed efficiency and application solutions. These themes combined with our top research facilities in the Netherlands, Canada and Spain and our regional Application & Solution Centres are the key enablers which drive results and margins.
"In Fish Feed the first half year operating result was clearly higher than in the same period of 2013. This was mainly due to higher salmon feed volumes in Norway as a result of exceptional market circumstances in the first six months of the year. A key strategic aim is to maintain our global market share in salmon feed as well as diversifying into feed for other species given their growth potential. The growth in feed for other species is helping to mitigate the impact of market developments in the Norwegian salmon feed market. Therefore we are pleased to see a strong contribution in results from our shrimp and tilapia feed companies in Ecuador and Egypt. We acquired these companies in 2013 as part of our strategy to grow in non-salmonid species and growth geographies.
"In June we organised our 10th biennial AquaVision conference in Stavanger, Norway for stakeholders in the global aquaculture value chain with more than 400 delegates from 45 countries. I believe this event again made a convincing case that aquaculture will play a significant role to secure food availability for a growing world population. Therefore Nutreco will continue to undertake a leading role in developing the feed industry to enable increased production of high quality sustainable fish and shrimp feed on all continents. Currently we already produce feed for a diversified portfolio of more than 60 species of fish and shrimp in 16 countries, with sales in over 40 countries. We aim to maintain and achieve market-leading positions in fish and shrimp feed both geographically and across different species. In order to achieve this, we will continue to work on unique sustainable feed products that are driven by innovation.
"We are pleased with the higher results in the Business Unit Compound Feed & Meat Iberia, the unit for which we started a process to explore a possible divestment. During the process we continuously operated with the clear intention that any valuation for the businesses should reflect their market-leading positions, solid financial results and future potential. As these discussions developed, it became clear that no fair valuation could be obtained at the current time. Accordingly, as we communicated on 11 June, the divestment process was halted in the best interests of all stakeholders; these businesses are now again reported as continued operations. The Iberian businesses are well-managed and combine market leadership with operational excellence.
"Nutreco is a cash generative company and we will use our financial strength to support organic growth and make selective acquisitions. As we are continuously exploring acquisition opportunities, we continue to expect to make one or two strategic acquisitions a year. Currently we have ample financial room to achieve our growth objectives so in order to optimise the efficiency of our balance sheet and enhance future earnings per share we will undertake an additional share buy-back programme of € 100 million in the second half of the year," Mr Nesse concluded.