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Fonterra slumps to big loss after taking $405m Beingmate impairment

21 March 2018

"Farmers will welcome a forecast cash payout of $6.80 - $6.90, which would be the third highest in the last decade".

While revenue was up 6 per cent, the company's earnings before interest and taxes were down 25 per cent from 2017. However when looking a little deeper into the results, past the Beingmate impairment and the Danone pay-out, the declines in Normalised EBIT and Gross Margin together with headwinds in the Consumer and Foodservice segments point to a tough six months for the business.

Fonterra announced a $348 million net loss for the first half.

Spierings calls these incidents "one-off events", saying the company's normalised Net Profit After Tax is $248 million and is a better reflection of Fonterra's underlying operating performance for the half year.

Meanwhile, Wilson says the Board has assessed the carrying value of Beingmate at $244 million and therefore taken an impairment of $405 million. It had earlier announced that its legal settlement with former customer Danone came to $183m.

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ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said the Beingmate charge "was on the upper end of what we were expecting". "We are very focused on doing all we can to get things where they need to be".

Fonterra chairman John Wilson said shareholders and unitholders "will be rightfully disappointed with this outcome". "The opportunity in the Chinese infant formula market remains, as does the potential for our Beingmate partnership - but an immediate business transformation is needed for Beingmate to benefit from the ongoing changes in the market".

In relation to Beingmate Mr Coull noted that while the Council viewed the latest impairment as reflective of the reality of the situation he understood Farmers' frustrations with what the Council has described as an unacceptable situation. "The turnaround of the investment is a key priority for our senior management team".

He said the growth in global demand was buoying prices, particular for whole milk powder. However, we are very aware of the challenges many of our farmers are facing this season with hard weather conditions impacting production.

Fonterra slumps to big loss after taking $405m Beingmate impairment