26 Feb 2010

Rural real estate still lagging - PGG Wrightson

6:57 am on 26 February 2010

PGG Wrightson says the rural real estate market continues to lag.

The listed rural services company made a profit of $4.1 million in the six months to December, but earnings slipped as farmers spent less.

Managing director Tim Miles says there is very little happening in rural real estate.

PGG Wrightson has 30% of the market for farms and life style blocks, but says nationally, only seven dairy farms were sold in January.

Mr Miles says there are buyers and sellers out there, but buyers are having difficulty in raising finance.

PGG Wrightson raised almost $250 million from shareholders last year, which has enabled it to repay $200 million in debt.

Mr Miles says cash generation will be a major focus for the business in coming months, to enable it to pay down another $77 million in debt by June.

He says it's hard to forecast full year earnings, especially with the key trading months of March, April and May yet to come.

But in line with previous guidance, expectations are for profits of about $24 million and earnings of $73 million.