Sealord, New Zealand's second largest seafood company, has attributed a $20.6 million profit over 15 months to a good performance from the company's deep water fishing unit.

The after-tax net profit increase brings total revenue for the holding company, Kura, from $530.8 million last year to $573.5 million, up by $40.2 million.
Reported debt levels are also down by $15 million and owners have been paid $16 million over the period.

The 15 month reporting period follows a change in Sealord's reporting date to match the fishing season, but chief financial officer Jason Dale told BusinessDesk that because the period includes two off-season fishing periods the result is not as good as it would have been for the 12 month period.

Dale says the company's deep water fishing business unit, which catches mainly white fish out beyond the coastline is the main reason for Sealord's profit increase.
This has meant lower costs and combines with higher prices this year for protein in general and white fish in particular.


"They've had a very good catch and then we have lower costs. Overall, we have been able to lift some of the other areas we're looking at expanding into."

He says Sealord has been expanding more into selling retail products such as packaged fresh and frozen fish, instead of a commodity product.

Sealord is half owned by Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission) and half owned by the Nippon Suisan company of Japan.

Of their over 117,000 tonnes yearly catchment, 90% is exported to more than 60 countries, but New Zealand accounts for 16% of Sealord's market by value.

The company's New Zealand green shell mussels saw firm prices, but a weak US dollar and a barnacle infestation in the North Island curbed potential pay-off for the company.

Returns from the U.K. marketing business were negatively affected by the lower British pound, although performance in both the U.K. and New Zealand was in line with expectation.

The result comes after NZX-listed fisheries company Sanford reported net profit falling from $25 million in 2009/10 to $22.3 million in 2010/11, despite increased total turnover.
Sealord's barramundi (fish) farming operation in Queensland's King Reef performed below expectation, having been affected by Cyclone Yasi in February.

Chief executive Graham Stuart said increases in fuel costs and a stronger dollar over the last decade have made conditions tough for the company, but they are quietly confident that the results show what the industry can deliver.


- This story has been corrected from an earlier version, which incorrectly referred to a $20.6m profit increase. This figure is the total profit.