ASTARTA interim report for the first three months of 2018

Key Highlights

  • Consolidated revenues decreased 39% to EUR 91 million and EBITDA 69% to EUR 13 million, mostly on contraction of sugar prices and lower volumes of sales
  • Net debt stood at EUR 127 million that is 3% lower than at the end of 2017. Net Debt/EBITDA (LTM) ratio remains at healthy level of 1.5  
  • 53% of produce were exported

Performance in Key Segments

Sugar production

In the 2017/2018 marketing year, the global sugar market switched to surplus on significant output expansion in India, the EU and other regions. This was the main driver to launch the cyclical downward move in sugar price by 30-40% y-o-y.

Sugar segment generated 39% of consolidated revenues with EUR 36 million. It is almost 48% lower
y-o-y as prices declined and volumes lowered on reduced production in the 2017 season. 54% of sugar was exported.

Agriculture

Agricultural segment with EUR 26 million (-47% y-o-y) contributed 28% to the consolidated revenues. Decreased sales volumes (44% less y-o-y) resulted from lower inventories following weaker harvest in 2017 and high comparison base in the first quarter of 2017 because of logistics delays in the last quarter of 2016. Exports were traditionally strong with an almost 83% share in volume terms.

Soybean processing

Soybean processing segment generated EUR 21 million that is 3% lower y-o-y. Volumes of sales were higher yet the EUR denominated average selling price corrected mostly on strengthened Euro against the US dollar. For the first three months of 2018 sales of soybean oil and meal stood at 13 thousand tons and 42 thousand tons, up 14% and 10% y-o-y, respectively. Exports were strong with 81% in sales volumes.

Dairy Farming

Revenues of the dairy segment were EUR 8 million (-9% y-o-y) on weaker EUR denominated price of milk. Milk sales volumes increased by 9% to 28 thousand tons. Total headcount of milking cows in ASTARTA farms as of the end of the reporting period stood just about flat y-o-y at 14,7 thousand heads while the average daily milk yield per cow grew nearly 10%.

Comments of CEO and founder Viktor Ivanchyk

The financial results of the reporting period are hard to perceive as strong. Both the top and bottom lines look much weaker than just a year ago. There are several reasons for this: markets cyclicality, macroeconomic factors, as well as a high comparison base.

At the same time, when one takes a longer-term view, there are several reassuring thoughts. The Group is currently moving through the bottom part of the soft commodities cycle with low debt, a strong balance sheet, constantly increasing operational efficiency, and a healthy combination of local sales and exports. There were several similar periods in ASTARTA’s 25-year history, when the challenges made our Company stronger and provided for new growth opportunities.

On the ground, the team works hard to deliver and develop the Company. With strong support from our financial partners – development and international banks, we continue the investment program to expand storage infrastructure, further streamline farming operations, and become closer to our end-customers. The effect of many of these important transformations will be reflected in the mid- and long-term perspective.