Wednesday, 07 April 2021 10:55

Synlait falters as Chinese channel sellers disappear

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Synlait is facing headwinds on several fronts. Synlait is facing headwinds on several fronts.

Canterbury Milk processor Synlait has suffered a 76% drop in half-year net profit as it battles Covid-related volatility and rising dairy prices.

The company, last week, reported a net profit of $6.4 million for six months ending January 31, 2021 - compared with $26.2 m for the same period last year.

While all banking covenant ratios were met, Synlait has increased its leverage ratios with lenders to manage any risk for the financial year.

Total revenue rose 19% to $66.4m but gross earnings dropped 29% to $48m. Packaged infant formula sales were down 16%.

Last month, the listed company withdrew its full-year guidance update as it battles headwinds on several fronts.

Synlait's key infant formula customer and cornerstone shareholder, a2 Milk Company is facing a dramatic drop in sales following travel disruptions between Australia and mainland China. Daigou channel sales - personal shoppers in Australia sending products to China - have dried up since the beginning of last year.

The company says the resulting impact of this on its business is two-fold: demand for consumer packaged infant formula remains uncertain, which in turn impacts forward infant base powder production and asset use.

The sudden drop in consumer-packaged infant formula deman, combined with rapidly rising Global Dairy Trade prices, foreign exchange, and a changing product mix, creates volatility which limits returns.

Another issue facing Synlait is the slow arrival and departure of goods in and out of ports globally.

While this is a timing issue, it expects delays to continue for some time and this will likely impact the full year result further.

Synlait chair Graeme Milne says the first half of the year was challenging.

"We continue to find ourselves in a period of significant uncertainty and volatility as Synlait faces into several headwinds.

"This is impacting our short-term operations and will impact our full year 2021 financial result."

Chief exectutive Leon Clement says it will take the company time to weather the storm.

"Our focus is now to mitigate the impact Covid-19 has had on our customers, as we manage costs and capacity and pull forward value creation initiatives to accelerate the execution of our strategy.

"We will need time to get through this, but we remain confident about our future."

Clement says the company's investment phase is now complete.

"We have the capacity, capability, and cutomer base to generate significant value. Covid-19 hit us late, but we will emerge from the pandemic a stronger, more sustainable Synlait."

a2 Milk owns just under 20% of shares in Synlait - with China's Bright Dairy the biggest shareholder with a 39% stake.

Synlait share prices have taken a hit in the past year - dropping from over $10/share in early 2019 to around $3.40 last week.

Before the first Covid lockdown in NZ in March last year, its share price was hovering around $7.30/share.

More like this

Synlait woes

OPINION: The misery of a2 milk is being passed onto its New Zealand partners, including Canterbury processor Synlait.

Payout on the rise

Farmgate milk prices offered by processors continue to soar on the back of strong global demand for dairy products.

Long-running Pokeno land battle over

A long-running legal battle between milk processor Synlait and New Zealand Industrial Park Limited over historic land covenants on a Pokeno processing site is over.


Deer farmer's roaring success

Southland elk farmer Tom May is no stranger to producing top quality velvet and believes that his Mayfield Elk Farm,…

The beginning - not end!

After seven years, the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) came to an end on 31 March, yet chair Malcolm Bailey…

Machinery & Products

SIAFD wins punters' plaudits

After celebrating its 70th year last month, it looks like the South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD) has hit its…

Opens up blindspots

Traditionally blind spots caused by large buckets or front mounted loads on wheeled loaders have been a major safety concern.

She's one big feeder

Feeder specialists Hustler has released a maxi-sized multi-feeder aimed at large scale farms in New Zealand and further afield.

Roots out problems

Austrian manufacturer Pöttinger has introduced the new Durastar narrow share for its Synkro and Synkro-T, mounted stubble cultivators.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Blue murder

OPINION: Your old mate recently read an off-the-wall suggestion, by some boffin, that deliberately staining meat blue will lead to…

Foot in mouth - again!

OPINION: This old mutt reckons Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor too often suffers from 'foot in mouth' disease.

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter