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Plant Impact shares soar as it unveils maiden profit

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Shares in Plant Impact soared 11% after the crop enhancement group unveiled its first annual profit and forecast further growth – in contrast with the setbacks being suffered by peers in conventional agrichemicals.

The group unveiled earnings of £119,000 for the year to the end of July – a small profit, but a milestone after losses totalling £14m over the previous nine years.

The move into the black reflected an 80% jump to £4.32m in sales of its products, which aim to boost yields though encouraging plant actions such as taking in nitrogen or improving disease resistance, rather than the external boosts given by traditional fertilizer or pesticide applications.

And it was upbeat over prospects, with John Brubaker, the Plant Impact chief executive, saying that "we look forward to maintaining the momentum of 2015".

Soybean growth

Mr Brubaker forecast "substantial growth" in Brazil, where the group is rolling out its Veritas product, which improves soy plants' pod counts and grain-filling performance, in a tie-up with Bayer, the German-based chemicals giant.

Veritas is being put in to some batches of Fox, the Bayer spray which has a 26% market share in the Brazilian fungicide soybean market, applied to some 8m hectares, with the use of the additive expected to increase.

The proportion of Fox containing Veritas is expected to increase from about 10%, well below a company target of 50% which would generate more than $20m of sales, said Peel Hunt, the company's broker.

Plant Impact is to take on extra staff in Latin America "to secure Veritas sales in Brazil and develop the product's potential in other soy-growing countries", Mr Brubaker said.

Cocoa entrance

He also flagged the prospect of a ramp up in sales of Banzai, which helps cocoa trees deal with infections of Black pod disease, after an agreement over the product with Arysta LifeScience.

"The first commercial year of Banzai is expected to be successful, starting in Cameroon and the Ivory Coast, and exploiting the strong cocoa grower network already serviced by Arysta LifeScience in these locations."

Plant Impact claims Banzai achieved a boost of at least 25% to cocoa yields.

And the group heralded the potential for further market headways, as it expands research and development, in particular in products for soy and wheat farmers.

Market reaction

The group's improved fortunes, and growth prospects, contrast with the setbacks being suffered by many fertilizer and, in particular, agrichemical peers, such as FMC, Platform Specialty Products (which owns Arysta) and Syngenta, as lower crop prices cut farmers' willingness to spend on inputs, and machinery too.

However, crop enhancement groups see their products as being a cost effective, and environmentally friendly, way of enhancing yields, and so lowering costs of producing crops on a per-tonne basis.

The data were well-received by Peel Hunt, which said that "the deals with Bayer and Arysta provide the company with the opportunity to build material revenue streams in two key global crops".

While putting a 70p price target on Plant Impact stock, with a "buy" rating, "there is potential for significant additional upside to our target price as the company delivers on new products and markets", the broker said.

The shares stood 11.1% higher at 60p in London in lunchtime deals.


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