Benchmark hails FY20 as 'a transformational year’

Francesca Morgan
RNS Newswires
11:53, 27th November 2020

Benchmark (AIM:BMK) FOLLOW has hailed FY20 as a “transformational year” after slashing its losses and seeing ‘substantial growth opportunities’ arise across its three core aquaculture areas.

In its FY20 results for the year ended 30 September 2020, the aquaculture biotechnology company said revenue from its continuing operations had reduced to £105.6m (FY20: £124m) while the group managed to successfully slash its pre-tax losses to £22.6m (FY20: £58.5m). 

In the FY20 period, Benchmark successfully completed a restructuring programme which resulted in the sale of its vaccine manufacturing facility to Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. In 4Q20 it raised £44m from five divestments, enabling it to conclude the disposal programme.

This was successful in refocusing the group ‘on its core aquaculture areas and in achieving financial solidity’, two critical steps towards its goal of becoming sustainably profitable, the company detailed.

Benchmark’s Genetics business performed well over the period with revenues up 5% from FY19. Meanwhile, revenues from Advanced Nutrition were down 22% due to Covid-19 related adverse conditions in the shrimp markets as well as the ongoing supply imbalance in Artemia.

Adjusted EBITDA from ongoing operations was £14.5m from £21.3m in FY19, reflecting lower revenues and margins in Advanced Nutrition, partially offset by Genetics and a reduction in R&D and operating costs from measures taken to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

‘We benefit from a diversified business across species and geographies and we expect the salmon market to remain stable while conditions in the shrimp market will continue to impact our business until there is a sustained recovery,’ the company highlighted to investors. 

Shares in Benchmark have increased by over 25% since the beginning of September 2020 to open 7.89% lower this morning at 52.5p following the announcement.

BMK price chart

In a separate quarterly report for the three months ended 30 September 2020, Benchmark highlighted that it was in ‘a significantly stronger financial position’ at period end with £83.2m cash (3Q20: £67m) while net debt at the end of September stood at £37.6m (3Q20: £54.7m).

The company highlighted that trading across 4Q20 reflected ‘the positive impact’ of its group-wide effort to reduce operating costs and R&D as well as a natural reduction in marketing and travel expenses in the period as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Trading in the period reflected good performance in Genetics supported by relatively stable salmon markets offset by the impact of ongoing weak shrimp markets in Advanced Nutrition.

Chairman of Benchmark, Peter George, said the company now remains focused on the three core aquaculture areas of Genetics, Advanced Nutrition and Health, “each with substantial growth opportunities and long-term positive drivers which give us optimism for the future.”

"Our results reflect a mixed performance across our business areas with a strong performance in Genetics offset by the effects of the restructuring programme and the impact of Covid-19, especially on the global shrimp markets,” said CEO, Trond Williksen. 

He added, "Moving into FY21, our focus is on becoming profitable and cash generative. Following the restructuring we are well-positioned in an exciting aquaculture industry, and we have significant potential to be realised in the years to come."

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