Livestock Improvement breeds strong result

By Owen Hembry

Listed farmer co-operative Livestock Improvement has broken through the $100 million revenue barrier.

Originally a spin off from the New Zealand Dairy Board, Livestock Improvement provides farmers with consultancy services, artificial dairy breeding programmes, herd testing, recording and information services.

The group yesterday posted record operating revenue of $104 million, up from $98.3 million last year and a net profit of $5.3 million - up from $4.8 million.

Chief executive of the Hamilton based group, Stuart Gordon, said innovation and diversification both domestically and internationally lay behind the record revenue level.

Gordon said a DNA analysis service used to determine genetic merit, short gestation semen used to co-ordinate births within a herd and the Protrack electronic identification system were the key profit contributors.

"Imagine a farmer comes out in the morning and there's 60 calves born, mothers and calves all over the place, who knows the actual parents," he said.

"Well DNA analysis can fix that for the farmer."

The Protrack system scans an electronic tag, identifies the cow and diverts it to a holding pen for veterinary treatment if records show it needs examination.

"[This is] really helpful for the farmer who's sort of lost control of the individual cow. We're helping him get that back."

Livestock Improvement has agents in the United States, offices in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and sells semen products as far afield as Argentina, Brazil and South Africa.

The co-operative says up to three-quarters of New Zealand's dairy cows are sired by a Livestock Improvement artificial breeding bull and that its "sire proving scheme" has contributed more than $15 billion to the domestic economy since the 1950s.

Shareholders will receive a final dividend of 11.6c per share, not imputed, on July 29, bringing the total dividend for the year to 19.8c.

Total dividends paid out account for 70 per cent of the pre-biotechnology expenditure profit of $8.7 million.

One analyst said the overall dividend yield was "very attractive" compared with the stock market in general.

"[It's a] very clear and focused business, great pedigree, market leader, good growth options and solid performance to date," he said.

Livestock Improvement has a closed shareholding, with only dairy farmer users of the group's services able to buy and trade shares.

Livestock Improvement listed on the stock exchange alternative market, the NZAX, last April.

Yesterday its shares were steady, finishing at $1.56.

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