Benchmark loss bites, as revenues rise

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UK-based fish treatments giant, Benchmark, posted on Tuesday a preliminary net loss and rising earnings for the whole of 2017, a year of product launch, facilities investments and the curbing of prior financial loss.

Adjusted company EBITDA increased by nine percent to GBP 10 million for the year that ended on Sept. 30th, 2017. Company revenues reached GBP 140 million, up about GBP 30 million from 2016.

The genetics, nutrition and fish-health firm’s results were impacted by spending GBP 21.5 million on “state-of-the-art production capacity in genetics and animal health” along with putting GBP 15.2 million into research and development.

New plant
Of some note, the company cut by 60 percent its 2016 loss to post a loss for 2017 of GBP 7 million, or 1.4 GBP per share. Although debt lingered, the seeds of future growth were said to be in place.

“Fundamental drivers remain favourable and outlook for our core species is positive with salmon production growing and shrimp production recovering,” a statement said.

As the reporting year ended, Benchmark — which also owns SalmoBreed and Stofnfiskur — launched regulated field trials for its Ectosan open-pen, lice-fighting treatment aimed at a salmon-growing industry it says could provide “an estimated GBP 40 to 50 million sales potential”. Meanwhile, it continues development of CleanTreat, a water purification system “that avoids contamination of marine waters from medicinal treatments of fish”.

Also of note was the opening in Norway of new genetics facility and the start of vaccine production at its Braintree facility.

Growth long-term
The earnings result was marked by a 47 percent growth in genetics sales, with demand for salmon eggs “up in every major market”. A new land-based facility in Norway in join-venture with Salten Stamfisk received its first batch of brood stock as the reporting period ended.

With falling demand for key lice treatment, Salmosan, and a near-halving of sales in its animal health business, Benchmark is understood to have switched in early 2018 to direct distribution of Salmosan in Chile. Sales continue in Canada and the Faroe Islands.

“The continued growing global demand for aquaculture products, the disease challenges faced, and pressure to limit the use of antibiotics, puts the group in a strong position to drive growth for many years to come,” company chief exec, Malcolm Pye, said in a statement.