Moana NZ boosts first-half profit 28% on Sealord earnings, iwi lobster joint venture

The lobster joint venture was expected to operate below expectations in the second half of the year.

Moana New Zealand boosted first-half profit 28 percent, even as revenue shrank by about a quarter, as the iwi-owned fishing group reaped gains from its half-stake in Sealord Group and its lobster joint venture with Port Nicholson Fisheries.

Net profit rose to $9.9 million in the six months ended March 31 from $7.7 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue dropped 23 percent to $76.7 million, however the bottom line was bolstered by a fattening of gross margin to 27.4 percent from 24.3 percent a year earlier, and as its share of Sealord profit more than doubled to $2.2 million and the lobster joint venture came on stream adding $2.2 million to Moana's earnings.

Moana changed its name from Aotearoa Fisheries last year in a rebranding initiative to present itself as a premium seafood group rather than a fish processor. The company is ultimately owned by iwi and Te Ohu Kaimoana and alongside its Sealord stake and lobster joint venture, operates in fin fish, wild abalone, blue abalone, oysters and ready-to-eat meals.

Chief executive Carl Carrington said Pacific oysters had been a strong performer for the group in the first half with record volumes sold, while ready-to-eat meals beat projections.

The lobster joint venture was expected to operate below expectations in the second half of the year as increased supply had depressed prices since February.

Sealord met forecast in the period as a larger harvest of lower value species offset a reduced margin, and Carrington said he expected the fishing group's full-year result will be in line with the $22.9 million reported in the 2016 financial year. Sealord, which Moana co-owns with Japan's Nippon Suisan Kaisha, typically reaps two-thirds of annual profit in the final quarter of the year and is dependent on a favourable hoki season.

Moana valued its Sealord stake at $183.2 million as at March 31, up from $171.8 million a year earlier.