26 Mar 2015

Fonterra fund shares drop

8:19 am on 26 March 2015

Investors have shaved more than seven percent off the value of Fonterra's share prices following a lower first-half profit and a cut in the dividend.

Fonterra's Shareholders' Fund's share price fell 43 cents and the co-operative's price fell 44 cents, to end at $5.56 each on Wednesday.

The dairy co-operative's profit fell 16 percent to $183 million in the six months to the end of January, compared with the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 14 percent to $9.7 billion.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said the company had not reacted quickly enough to the volatility engulfing global dairy prices.

But that was going to change; the company would ensure staff were in place in key markets to closely monitor activity and move milk quickly to fill high-value demand.

Fonterra Shareholders' Council chairman Ian Brown said farmers would be disappointed with Fonterra's intention to cut the forecast dividend by 5 cents to between 20 and 30 cents a share.

He said a lower milk price should help lift margins for the company's high value products, on which the dividend is based.

"Shareholders rightfully want to see the strategy provide a return on their investment especially given the low milk price environment, farmers are currently experiencing."

Mr Brown said shareholders expected the co-operative to lift the dividend and he would quiz the management and board about its current strategy.

"In the interim I continue to encourage farmers to be prudent in their financial planning and to ensure they place their businesses in the best possible shape for next season," he said.