Shares in New Britain Palm Oil tumbled to a three-year low
after the group revealed that its main site in Papua New Guinea had been
plagued again by rains – despite having assured investors that it was ready for inundations this time.
The producer of sustainable palm oil - which last month said
that it was "better prepared to cope with wet weather in the January-to-April
period" – revealed that its performance had again been "negatively impacted" by
Indeed, its processing volumes had fallen 5% behind those
for the same period of last year, when the first-quarter crush was in turn down
8.3% year on year.
New Britain Palm Oil shares stood 6.3% lower at 420p in late
deals in London, after touching 415p earlier, their lowest since January 2010.
The group said that its some areas of West New Britain
Province in which it operates will have received 3 metres of rain by the end of
the quarter, "well above average levels".
"High rainfall inhibits the ability of our workforce to
collect fresh [palm] fruit bunches from the field, primarily because of the
resulting transportation and access difficulties," New Britain Palm Oil said.
"Harvesting rounds have been extended in the worst affected
areas to limit fruit loss.
"However, it is expected that some fruit will be
irretrievably lost in the field during this period," with oil extraction rates
The company said it had been "working closely" with state
officials on emergency repairs to damaged roads and bridges.
The comments come less than a month after Antonio Monteiro
De Castro, the New Britain Palm Oil chairman said that the group had "put in
place certain measures to ensure that 2013 will be a more robust trading year.
"Operationally we entered 2013 better prepared to cope with
the wet weather in the January to April period.
"Harvest intervals are under control at all sites and
adequate labour numbers are on hand to cope with temporary harvesting delays
caused by bad weather," he said, as the group unveiled a 70% drop in 2012
profits largely blamed on early-year rainfall denting production.
Thursday's statement received a cool welcome from analysts
at Shore Capital, who cut their rating on New Britain shares to "sell" from
hold, and Peel Hunt, which reduced its recommendation to "hold" from "buy".