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Grieg Seafood ASA: Q4 2020 results – Disrupted markets with low spot prices impacted earnings

Fourth quarter highlights

  • Harvest volume of 20 271 tonnes in fourth quarter and 71 142 tonnes for the full year, below guidance of 75 000 tonnes (ex Shetland) due to ISA harvest capacity challenges in Finnmark
  • Good biological performance in Rogaland and BC
  • Finnmark impacted by high cost related to continued harvest of ISA sites
  • Negative EBIT before fair value adjustment of NOK 17 million
  • Negative EBIT/kg NOK 0.8
  • Disrupted markets with low spot prices impacted earnings negatively by NOK 107 million vs Q4 2019
  • Process to divest Shetland assets initiated. Shetland classified as held for sale and not included in EBIT
  • Additional issue of NOK 500 million on the Green Bond
  • In historic move, soy vendors to the salmon industry became the first Brazilian soy suppliers to end trade of deforestation linked soy
  • Expect harvest of 80 000 tonnes (ex Shetland) in 2021

Subsequent event

  • Fully integrated sales and marketing organization operational in January 2021
  • Invested in Årdal Aqua in January 2021, a joint venture for post-smolt and land-based salmon farming

Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the salmon market with a significant shift in demand and lower prices in core markets. The priorities for Grieg Seafood are protecting our people, the local communities where we operate, our partners and business operations, and to secure liquidity and financial solidity. Despite the challenging circumstances, demand for Atlantic salmon remains strong and Grieg Seafood has been able to maintain efficient operations throughout the quarter.

Financial results

The Group harvested 20 271 tonnes in Q4 2020, down 12% compared to 23 010 tonnes in Q4 2019.

The average spot salmon price (NQSALMON, weekly average less distributor margin) for Q4 2020 was NOK 43.2 per kg, down by NOK 13.4 per kg compared to Q4 2019, and down by NOK 3.9 per kg compared to Q3 2020.

Sales revenues in Q4 2020 from continuing operations amounted to NOK 1 163 million, a decrease of 20% compared to Q4 2019. The decrease is mainly due to the lower spot prices in Norway, resulting in a negative revenue contribution on EBIT of NOK 107 million when comparing average realized prices in the quarter to Q4 2019. However, the effect from BC impacted our EBIT positively by NOK 15 million. The negative effect from lower market prices were also somewhat offset by favourable fixed price contracts in Rogaland and Finnmark.

Farming cost during the period (total cost related to fish harvested this quarter) increased compared to the same quarter last year, primarily due to biological challenges in Finnmark and to some extent by decreased survival in Rogaland. On top of a challenging salmon market in Norway, Finnmark has been negatively impacted by quality downgrades related ISA, and superior for the quarter ended at 77%. BC experienced a strong recovery from the challenges with harmful algae blooms (HAB) in prior quarters. However, farming cost in the fourth quarter carry high costs from previous HAB incidents.

The Group’s EBIT before fair value adjustment of biological assets was negative by NOK 17 million during the quarter, corresponding to a negative EBIT per kg of NOK 0.8.

Commenting on the Group’s performance, CEO Andreas Kvame, said:
"As expected, the last quarter of 2020 was also characterized by the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdowns in Europe, shifting demand from hotels and restaurants to retail, impacted salmon prices significantly.

Operational results improved and stabilized during the fourth quarter, with good biological performance in Rogaland and BC. In Finnmark, production was stable, but results were impacted by continued harvest of fish affected by ISA during Q3.

Overall, 2020 has been a challenging year. We did not deliver on our ambitions, not only because of Covid-19 but also due to biological challenges in several regions. We have taken important steps to remedy the situation. We have strengthened our operational capabilities with a new and more farming oriented organizational set-up, and with a potential sale of our Shetland operations, we are narrowing our focus to Norway and Canada as strong production regions. We have also started our journey to take a stronger market position with a new and integrated sales and marketing organization.

As we are starting to see the light in the end of the tunnel and a post-Covid-19 world, Grieg Seafood continue the journey of improvement, with the aim of creating long-term value for all our stakeholders."

Strategic priorities

The Group aim to provide shareholders with a competitive return on invested capital through payment of dividends and share price increases. The Company´s long-term dividend strategy states that the average dividend should correspond to 30%-40% of profit after tax, before fair value adjustment of biological assets. Dividends are evaluated twice a year. Due to the increased volatility and uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 situation, combined with an extensive investment plan, the Board has decided to postpone the ordinary dividend for 2020.

Outlook

In the short term, operational efficiency and biosecurity are the top priorities in Grieg Seafood.

With the uncertainties of the ongoing pandemic and the reinforcement of restrictions, the short-term market outlook remains uncertain with forward prices on Fishpool around NOK 49 per kg for Q1 2021 and NOK 52 per kg for the full year 2021. The longer-term view on the market is looking better, where Fishpool salmon prices have been traded around NOK 57 per kg for the full year of 2022.

The Group targets a contract share of 20-50%. Estimated contract share for Q1 2021 is 45% for Norway, with current full year 2021 estimate of 28%.

In 2019, a total of 25.2 million smolt with an average weight of 190 grams was stocked to sea, with the aim of harvesting 100 000 tonnes in 2020. However, in a pandemic with low market prices, combined with reduced growth and harvest adjustments in Finnmark, we postponed some harvesting to 2021, reducing our target harvest volume to 90 000 tonnes in 2020 or 75 000 tonnes ex. Shetland. We ended the year with a harvest of 71 142 tonnes ex. Shetland, or 86 850 tonnes incl. Shetland.

In 2020, we have stocked 22 million smolt to sea, with an average weight of 230 grams, with a harvest target of 80 000 tonnes in 2021 (ex. Shetland).

In the first quarter of 2021, expected harvest volume is 10 700 tonnes, with the following area distribution:

  • Rogaland:  4 300 tonnes
  • Finnmark:  6 300 tonnes
  • BC:              600 tonnes

Grieg Seafood maintains the long-term harvest volume target of 130 000 by 2025.

Results presentation

CEO Andreas Kvame and CFO Atle Harald Sandtorv will present the results by webcast today, Thursday 11 February at 08:00 CET.

The presentation can be accessed at www.griegseafood.com, or with the following link: https://channel.royalcast.com/landingpage/hegnarmedia/20210211_2/

The presentations and the subsequent Q&A will be held in Norwegian. An English transcript of the presentations will be made available at https://investor.griegseafood.com/reports-&-presentations.

For further enquiries, please contact:
Andreas Kvame, CEO
Cell phone: +47 907 71 441

Atle Harald Sandtorv, CFO
Cell phone +47 908 45 252


About Grieg Seafood

Grieg Seafood ASA is one of the world's leading salmon farmers, targeting 130 000 tonnes of harvest (GWT) in 2025. Our farms are in Finnmark and Rogaland in Norway, British Columbia and Newfoundland in Canada, and Shetland in the UK. Our headquarter is located in Bergen, Norway. Grieg Seafood ASA was listed at the Oslo Stock Exchange in June 2007. More than 900 people work in the Company throughout our regions.

Sustainable farming practices are the foundation of Grieg Seafood’s operations.  The lowest possible environmental impact and the best possible fish welfare is both and ethical responsibility and drive economic profitability. Towards 2025, we aim for global growth, cost improvements and to evolve from a pure salmon supplier to an innovation partner for selected customers.

To learn more, please visit www.griegseafood.com.



This information is subject to the disclosure requirements pursuant to section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.

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