Record CBH rebate tops $60 million

12 Jan, 2017 02:00 AM
CBH Group chief executive officer Dr Andy Crane said the co-operative had another strong year.
CBH Group chief executive officer Dr Andy Crane said the co-operative had another strong year.

A CAPITAL management policy and focus on returning value to its 4200 members has resulted in CBH declaring a record total rebate of $60.4 million for 2015-16.

The record rebate was a massive 350 per cent increase over the $16.9m returned to growers in rebates for 2014-15.

It represented up to $4.20 a tonne reduction in handling and storage fees to growers.

And, according to the group's chief financial officer Ed Kalajzic, 2016-17 "bodes well" as another "good rebate year".

Mr Kalajzic said CBH's marketing and trading section returned to profit after a net loss in 2014-15 and contributed $7.6m to the total rebate, or $1.20 of the $4.20 per tonne.

CBH's financial results released on Monday showed the record rebate payout cut net profit after tax (NPAT) to $49.8m, down from $82.7m the previous year.

But pre-rebate surplus for 2015-16 was $110.2m - up 10.6pc on the previous year - on total revenue of $3.3 billion.

Chief executive officer Andy Crane described it as a "strong year" for the co-operative.

The financial performance was made possible by CBH's fourth largest harvest of 13.6m tonnes, he said.

"The results are driven by a real clear focus and a single measure of performance which is our dollar per tonne," Dr Crane said.

"Our growers are our user, our owner and sole beneficiary, so we've got that real focus on lowering the supply chain costs and then further offsetting that with rebates.

"We maintained Australia's lowest storage and handling fees of $30.50 per tonne, excluding freight, and reduced freight (costs) by 2.5pc which is in additional to reductions in previous years," he said.

The focus on returning value was reflected in $16m recurrent efficiency savings identified during the first year of a two-year program, he said.

Dr Crane acknowledged the attempt by Australian Grains Champion (AGC) in 2015-16 to force CBH to change to a publically-listed corporate entity had precipitated a structure and governance review.

He said the "structure decision" to remain as a non-distributing co-operative was "largely separate" from the financial results and was taken with a long-term view.

The subsequent survey was conducted after the AGC offer was rejected after consultation with growers, and 79pc of growers indicated they preferred the co-operative model, he said.

"Certainly they have seen how the co-operative has performed in recent years against other supply chains, particularly in the measure of supply chain costs.

"Them (growers) having equity from the business on the balance sheet is a second discussion which they have gone through.

"It seems from this and a strong preference for a non-distributing co-operative, that what is more important to growers are the supply chain fees.

"That ties closely to the capital management framework - on that basis (our position has been) let's make sure we don't hold any more equity back than what is needed to run the supply chain very efficiently.

"I think that's the relevance of these results," Dr Crane said.

He said the results were achieved against strong competition from the Black Sea area and with low sea freight costs "eroding" WA growers' price advantage into Asian and South East Asian markets.

CBH chairman Wally Newman said it had been a busy year with highlights including the introduction of the network strategy and investment by Blue Lake Milling (BLM) into oat processing in WA at the Metro Grain Centre, Forrestfield.

"The network strategy underpins a $750 million investment CBH will make in the storage and handling network over a five-year period, ensuring the network operates as efficiently as possible for the benefit of our growers," he said.

"During 2016 we demonstrated our dedication to growth along the supply chain with the announcement of a new oat processing facility in Western Australia and continued to support our local communities through $1.8 million of funding through sponsorships and grants.

"We also conducted an in-depth review of CBH's structure and governance which was a wonderful opportunity to engage with our members and hear their preferences about the future of CBH, with almost eight out of 10 members wanting CBH to remain a co-operative," Mr Newman said.

Mr Kalajzic said the board and senior management had focussed on capital management over the past 12-18 months.

As a result, with a strong balance sheet, net assets maintained at more than $1.65 billion and no long-term debt, CBH was well positioned to continue delivering value, he said.

CBH continued to invest in its network with $132.4m in capital projects and maintenance completed - including providing an additional 800,000t of emergency storage needed to handle the current season's record crop, Mr Kalajzic said.

While network expenditure - mostly capital works - was down from more than $170m in 2014-15 and more than $150m in 2013-14, it was predicated, he said, on the $750m program to come over the next five years.

"We have been working really hard within the business to lay the foundation of this strategy and this important piece of work has led to the reduced spending in 2015-16, compared to previous years, to ensure that the capital was allocated to the right sites," Mr Kalajzic said.

The CBH operations division recorded a $45.8m NPAT - down significantly from the previous two years - from a $100.9m surplus after $55.1m in rebates.

Operations revenue of $582.8m was down from more than $650m on the previous two years due, Mr Kalajzic said, to the record rebates and timing of shipping income.

CBH received more than 90pc of the overall crop in 2015-16 and its WA export market share was more than 98pc.

In a breakdown of the group's divisional results, Mr Kalajzic acknowledged the good work of CBH's marketing and trading team in a "difficult trading year in a very competitive environment".

It recorded $6.39m NPAT after contributing $7.6m to rebates.

The marketing and trading division also provided more than $140m in pre-payments to growers.

This was on revenue of $2.7b - down from more than $3.9b the previous year when it made a loss.

Revenue was impacted by grain prices falling on average 11pc during the year, Mr Kalajzic said.

The division acquired more than 47pc of grain it marketed from WA and maintained its position as Australia's largest grains exporter with about 30pc of exports.

It delivered more than 7m tonnes direct to international customers and became involved in the Black Sea market with CBH's Russian-based office buying and marketing 190,000 tonnes of Russian wheat and barley in its first year.

But the marketing and trading division's good result was largely offset by poor returns for the year from CBH's investments.

Its half-share of Interflour profit came to just $300,000 with Vietnam the only shining light in a difficult trading year when currency fluctuations forced CBH to write down the book value of its investment.

A dividend sacrifice as contribution for the third and final year of an agreement on construction of the InterMalt plant, due to be commissioned at Cai Mep port, Vietnam, this year also had an impact

"It had been one of the most challenging years since CBH invested in Interflour, with more competition entering the market, lower margins being achieved and fluctuating currencies across the regions they operate in," Mr Kalajzic said.

He said operating conditions in Indonesia and Malaysia were particularly difficult and to a lesser degree in Turkey, but Interflour still managed to retain market share and still ranked as number three miller in Asia.

The first quarter of 2016-17 had already shown a significant improvement over 2015-16 and better results were expected, Mr Kalajzic said.

As well, a new 500-tonne-a-day mill in the Philippines was expected to be completed this year and an upgrade of the Golden Grand flour mill in Indonesia was almost finished.

In its first full year under CBH ownership (BLM) made a less than expected profit of $2.4m due to a second year of drought in South Australia limiting supply of oats and driving the price up.

"On the positive side, it was pleasing to see WA oats being shipped to BLM, helping underpin the strategic benefit of having such a group approach," Mr Kalajzic said.

"Going forward, the BLM business will be expanding and therefore (is) expected to contribute further to our group earnings."

p The full financial report can be viewed on the CBH website -



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