WA writedown bitter for almond producer
WA writedown bitter for almond producer

A $20 million writedown in a WA greenfields project and a deluge of wet weather during harvest season has hit almond producers Select Harvests' bottom line, with the company posting a full-year loss of $4.5 million.

The loss to June 30 compares to a net profit of $17.7 million in the corresponding period last year.

The loss has largely been driven by a $20 million writedown in its WA greenfields almond project at Carnamah, on the Dandaragan plateau in the northern Wheatbelt, and a $4.9 million writedown after the decision to close a redundant processing plant.

Managing director Paul Thompson said the company was well placed to take advantage of increased demand for almonds in both the domestic and global markets.

"The performance of our almond division was disappointing with below industry average yields experienced across the industry, and wet harvesting conditions impacting the quality of the almond crop," Mr Thompson said in a statement.

"Over the coming months our focus will be on driving operational improvements and efficiency to reduce costs, and on leveraging our size, expertise and unique integrated business.

"Demand for almonds continues to increase domestically and internationally and is on track to outstrip supply."

Early signs for the 2013 almond crop are positive, with independent experts engaged by the company confirming that their are good pollination conditions, and low water costs.

A growing number of almond trees are expected to reach maturity in the new season, and the company is hopeful that this will produce higher yields.

The Australian almond industry is on track to become the second largest in the world behind only California by 2015, and the company under new leadership is confident that by consolidating its business it will be in a position to capitalise on the growing market.

The board declared a fully franked final dividend of three cents per share to be paid in October, with shares in the company falling 2.26 per cent to $1.30 after announcing the loss.

The West Australian

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