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Nufarm shares soar on rising revenue, profits

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Nufarm shares soared 9% after the company unveiled a rise in profits and revenues, and an upbeat outlook for most regions.

The Australian agricultural chemical company downplayed the threat posed by El Nino to Australian input demand, and said that rains in Brazil could increase the need for fungicides.

In the year to July 31, Nufarm's earnings rose by 15% to Aus$43.2m, from Aus$37.7 last year. This figure included a one-off Aus$73.8m restructuring cost.

Revenues rose 4% to Aus$2.74bn.

Nufarm chief executive Gregg Hunt said the restructuring had already delivered Aus$15m in savings in 2014-15, a figure which would rise to Aus$20 in 2015-16.

A number of the group's European facilities have been closed, in cost-cutting measured announced after the group's longstanding chief exective, Doug Rathbone, stepped down in February.

"Our target by the end of 2018 is to have Aus$116m net earnings before interest and tax improvement," Mr Hunt said.

El Nino downplayed

Nufarm expects sales in Australia to improve following the restructure, despite fears of dryness caused by the El Nino Effect.

Speaking to investors, Mr Hunt said that "we do not see El Nino related impacts as a material risk to achieving earnings growth in Australia this year.

"It's important to remember that we have experienced relatively dry summer cropping periods here in Australia for each of the last three years," he said.

Brazilian boost

And Mr Hunt noted a potential boost from El Nino in other regions.

"Whilst El Nino weather patterns can result in drier or more-dry-than-normal spring conditions in eastern Australia, they also typically result in wetter -- more wetter conditions in other parts of the world," he said.

These areas include Western Australia and southern Brazil, "where we may see increased demand for insecticides and fungicides".

The company also expects rising plantings and crop inputs in Brazil, which will mitigate losses from the falling Brazilian currency and weaker farmer incomes due to low commodity prices.

Nufarm chief financial officer Paul Binfield noted that if the real weakens further "you've actually got a situation whereby you probably will have seen appreciation in real commodity prices over that timeframe, which obviously softens the blow for the local grower".

Nufarm expects to generate growth in the US, and also forecast "solid growth" in Europe, despite revenue from the region falling 1.9% over the year to July 31, to Aus$544.8m.

Shares rally

Nufarm announced a 2015 dividend of Aus$0.06 a share, up from Aus$0.05 last year.

Nufarm's shares closed up 9.3% at Aus$$7.73 on in Sydney, adding some Aus$175m to the group's stockmarket value.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, Nufarm said that it was cooperating with authorities after the death of a worker at the company's Linz manufacturing site in Austria, which took place on Tuesday morning.


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