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Metcash shares lift despite $150 million loss

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Metcash shares have rallied after the supermarket wholesaler announced a $125 million share buyback alongside an impairment-driven full-year loss of $149.5 million.

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The IGA and Foodland supermarket supplier’s shares were 15.5 cents, or 5.6 per cent higher, at $2.945 at 1030 AEST on Monday after Metcash announced the loss for the year to April 30 – down from a $172 million profit a year ago.

Metcash announced in May it would take a $352 million impairment for 2017/18 – as a result of the loss of a major South Australian contract and tougher competition.

On Monday Metcash chief executive officer Jeff Adams said the company’s strong cash position would allow a share buyback of at least $125 million – with a cutoff date for participation of June 27.

Despite the headline full-year loss, the company also announced an underlying profit after tax – removing the effects of the impairment – of $215.6 million, up 10.7 per cent.

The wholesaler posted strong earnings in its hardware sector by $20.5 million to $69 million, while liquor earnings improved $1.5 million to $68 million.

Earnings in the biggest division, food, remained flat at around $188 million.

Adams said the results were positive given the expected loss of one of its South Australian supermarket customers and no signs of an improvement in general market conditions.

“It was pleasing to see the group deliver underlying earnings growth despite the continuation of highly competitive and challenging markets, particularly in the food pillar,” he said.

METCASH’S RESULTS FOR YEAR TO APRIL 30, 2018

* Net loss of $149.5 million, down from $171.9m profit a year earlier

* Revenue of $14.46 billion, up 2.4 per cent

* Final dividend of 7 cents a share, fully franked, up from 4.5 cents

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