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Elders shrugs off challenging year to post $122m profit


South Australian agribusiness Elders has reported a healthy statutory profit after tax of $122.9 million for 2019-20, an 80 per cent increase on the previous financial year.

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The company’s revenue reached $2.09 billion in FY20, up 29 per cent on the 2018-19 figure. It also had a huge increase in its operating cashflow, which jumped from $11.2 million in FY19 to $110.5 million in FY20.

In a year impacted by bushfires, drought and COVID-19, the company will pay its shareholders a fully franked final dividend of 13 cents per share.

The acquisition and integration of leading rural supplies wholesaler AIRR into the company’s Rural Products division added $44 million to Elders’ gross margin, well in excess of acquisition business case projections.

In a statement to the ASX this morning, the company said higher livestock prices more than offset a soft wool market, while its real estate division achieved strong growth in broadacre farm and residential property sales.

The SA-based company’s share price has also enjoyed strong growth in the past 12 months, defying a coronavirus slump to increase to $11.88 from just $6.49 at this time last year.

Elders’ chief executive officer and managing director Mark Allison said the outcome was a result of strong strategies and a nimble response to the extraordinary challenges that arose throughout the year.

“Our solid business foundations and strict financial discipline, together with a commitment to ensuring the safety and prosperity of clients, communities and staff across Australia, allowed us to succeed despite challenging operating conditions in FY20,” he said.

“We now have a business that can make good money in a bad year and great money in a good year.”

The result was driven by gross margin growth across all state geographies and products, combined with continued cost control and capital allocation discipline.

Elders has been an integral part of Australia’s rural landscape since it was formed in Adelaide in 1839.

The company employs more than 2,100 staff across Australia, providing a full range of services to primary producers.

With a market capitalisation of $1.84 billion, Elders was this week ranked at No.8 on InDaily’s SA Business Index, up from No.11 last year.

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