Irish agri-services group Origin Enterprises said revenue rose last year as the company put in a strong performance in declining commodity markets.
But profits and earnings per share were lower for the year ending July 31st, 2023, as the markets stabilised and commodity prices fell back. The group also said it would close its Ukraine business at the end of the month.
Origin said its operating profit was €90.8 million for the year, down 24 per cent from €119.7 million reported in 2022. Pretax profit for the group was €81.9 million, more than 29 per cent below the previous year, when the figure stood at €115.5 million.
Group revenue rose almost 5 per cent to €2.5 billion, with adjusted diluted earnings per share of 53.16 cent, at the top end of its guidance.
Origin also reported strong cash generation and conversion, with free cash flow of €104.4 million during the period. At the end of the year, the group’s year-end net cash position was €53.2 million, up from €43.4 million in the previous financial year.
“This result was driven by a strong free cash flow of €104.4 million which included a working capital inflow of €43.9 million, as fertiliser raw materials and feed prices decreased globally, combined with favourable timing impacts of purchases and sales,” said Origin chief executive Sean Coyle.
The past year also saw the completion of four acquisitions in the group’s amenity, environmental and ecology business, a strategically important unit for the company, an investment that was worth €30.1 million.
“These acquisitions complement our organic growth strategy and broaden our expertise and capabilities in the growing market for ecological and environmental products and services,” Mr Coyle said.
“From our strong cash flow, we also returned €38 million to shareholders this year through a combination of share buy-backs and dividends.”
That included a €20 million share buyback during the period.
Origin is proposing a final dividend of 13.65 cent per share, with a total full-year dividend of 16.8 cent.
The agri-services group also said it had decided to close its Ukraine business at the end of September, as reduced activity levels and the market dynamics in recent years meant the business was loss-making. Mr Coyle said there was “little evidence” that the trading environment would improve.