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Chicken producer brings home bacon as insurance giant flounders

Business

Poultry producer Inghams has reported an after-tax profit of $35.3 million for the first half of the financial year. But the news is not so good for shareholders of global insurer QBE, with the company reporting a $1.93 billion loss amid a range of natural disasters and business claims triggered by COVID-19.

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Inghams increased its profits by 34 per cent in the six months to the end of December as shoppers stocked up on chicken during coronavirus lockdowns.

It also grew sales volumes of its core poultry lines by 5.6 per cent compared with the second half of FY20, which it said reflected strengthened demand across most channels and the return of overall trading volumes to pre COVID-19 levels.

Chief executive Jim Leighton said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange this morning the results came despite higher feed prices, and the partial closure of poultry export channels following biosecurity issues in Victoria.

“Our team proudly fulfilled its role as an essential service provider throughout COVID-19 disruptions that occurred during the half-year, maintaining supply to customers with operations fully maintained across Australia and New Zealand since re-opening of our Thomastown facility on 3 August,” he said.

“Our ability to respond quickly and effectively to these challenges has further strengthened our customer relationships and our reputation as a trusted and reliable supplier of poultry across Australia and New Zealand.”

Shareholders will receive a fully franked interim dividend of 7.5 cents per share.

Meanwhile, Global insurer QBE has recorded a net loss after tax of $US1.5 billion ($A1.93 billion) and as a result, will not pay a final dividend.

The company put the result down to Australia’s Black Summer bushfires, significant hail and storm claims, US wildfires and a record number of Atlantic hurricanes as well as business interruption claims triggered by COVID-19.

“The headline result includes a disappointing underwriting result, a significant reduction in investment income, impairment of goodwill and deferred tax assets in North America and charges related to rationalisation of legacy IT platforms and our real estate footprint,” it said in a statement.

The 135-year-old insurer’s adjusted net cash loss after tax was $1.11 billion ($US863 million), which compares with an adjusted net cash profit after tax of $943 million ($US733 million) for 2019.

Premium rates continued to harden. Group-wide premium renewal rate increases averaged 9.8 per cent compared with 6.3 per cent the previous year.

Locally, Adelaide-based technology company Codan yesterday announced a statutory net profit after tax of $41.3 million for the half-year ended  December 31, 2020.

It is the highest half-year profit in the company’s history and was a 36 per cent increase on the first half of the 2020 financial year.

The strong performance was driven by the company’s metal detection division, which increased sales from $100 million to $155 million for the half, compared to the same period last financial year.

Codan will also pay an interim dividend of 10.5 cents per share, fully franked, on March 11.

The Mawson Lakes company also announced this week it would pay more than $100 million to buy US-based Domo Tactical Communications from a private equity firm.

 – with AAP

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