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Edited Transcript of LIC.NZ earnings conference call or presentation 27-Jan-21 11:30pm GMT

·10 min read

Q2 2021 Livestock Improvement Corporation Ltd Earnings Call Feb 3, 2021 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Livestock Improvement Corporation Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 11:30:00pm GMT TEXT version of Transcript ================================================================================ Corporate Participants ================================================================================ * David Hazlehurst Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited - CFO * Murray King Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited - Independent Chairman * Wayne McNee Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited - CEO ================================================================================ Presentation -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Murray King, Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited - Independent Chairman [1] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. We've reached 12:30. I think we're good to go. It looks like participants have been admitted. So thank you for attending this call this afternoon, the purpose of which is to discuss the half year results for LIC that we announced yesterday and answer any questions that you may have. On the call today is myself as Chair of LIC; and Wayne McNee, our Chief Executive. The call is being recorded and will be available on the LIC website tomorrow. We'll have a Q&A session at the end of this call. (Operator Instructions) So you're able to submit questions at any time during the call. However, we'll only answer these at the end during the Q&A session. (Operator Instructions) So we've delivered a strong half year result and increased our full year underlying earnings forecast range from $16 million to $22 million, tightened that range to -- and increased it to [$19 million to $23 million]. This shows continued strength in the cooperative and its financial performance. As far as the financial highlights concern, total revenue was $169.7 million, up 3.8% from $163.4 million in the same period last year. Net profit after tax was up 10.4% to $33.4 million. And this is primarily due to the strong growth in the sales of the LIC's premium artificial breeding options and animal health and diagnostics testing, as farmers invest to optimize the value of their dairy herds. We recorded $60 million of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. This was up 2.7%. And an EBIT, there is earnings before interest and tax of $46.4 million, which is up 7.6%. As mentioned earlier, we've also reported a change in underlying earnings range. This is now forecast to be $19 million to $23 million for the year, up from $16 million to $22 million. With respect to research and development, the cooperative is balancing profit with focused R&D and technology investment for the long term. We're investing in areas where LIC has unique capability to maximize the value our customers generate from their livestock and products, providing technology and services to make farmers' lives easier. We continue to invest in key areas such as genetics and R&D through to updating and enhancing MINDA as it's critical to farmers and their businesses. The highlight of the result was farmers growing confidence in LIC's genomic selection, with around 1.4 million inseminations from genomic sires this year, up from just under 400,000 in 2017. Wayne will cover more on R&D and genomics shortly. With respect to COVID-19, the result was pleasing considering the disruption of the second COVID lockdown. Whilst this didn't impact very much on our customers, it did have significant impact with operations, particularly around the north -- north of the North Island. So I'd like to thank LIC management and staff for their support over this at this time. Their dedication, resilience and effort is very much appreciated. Our people have had to overcome significant challenges to ensure business continuity and uninterrupted services to our customers. With respect to governance and representation, you will no doubt be aware that following the annual meeting in October, we announced that shareholders have voted to update and streamline the governance of the cooperative, including changes to the Board and replacing the shareholder council with a smaller, more focused shareholder reference group. We look forward to updating shareholders on the work of this group throughout the year. I'll now hand over to Wayne, who will update on the work LIC is doing in genomic space and other R&D initiatives we're also working on. Over to you, Wayne. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wayne McNee, Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited - CEO [2] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks, Murray. (inaudible) As Murray said, this is a solid result, and we're proud to deliver it to our farmer shareholders. I'm going to focus, first of all, on genomics. The result reflects the value on-farm of LIC's ongoing investment to enhance our core genetics business through world-leading pastoral, dairy pastoral genomics to drive genetic gain in dairy herds and a wider uptake of LIC's beef, dairy beef genetics as well. LIC is now a world leader in pastoral genomics, dairy genomics science. Genomic science and genome sequencing technology has generated increased productivity and improved health traits for dairy cows and better returns for dairy farmers. And as Murray said, this has been shown by the increased uptake that farmers have grown in their confidence in the product over the past few years. The cooperative has invested $78 million into genomic science over the past 3 decades to speed up valuable genetic gain in dairy herds. And we're continuing that investment with a number of programs. I'll touch on one of those later. Genomic selection is now a key part of our breeding scheme in conjunction with the more traditional methods of sire proving. This helps enable our customers to produce the most sustainable and efficient animals and the highest value product. As we look to the season ahead, the focus will be continuing to deliver more for farmers through this cutting-edge genomic research. And I will now talk through a little bit of -- a bit more around R&D and the portfolio of work we're doing. The first of those is our resilient dairy program, which is a partnership with MPI and DairyNZ, with co-funding from each of the other parties, but led by LIC. Now that is focusing particularly around genomics for health traits and welfare, but also a lot of work around milk, what's called MilkOmics, looking for other things we can find in milk. Next is HoofPrint. This is our new index, a new tool, which gives farmers accurate insights into bulls that have the potential to breed progeny with a lighter environmental footprint, cows that produce less methane and less nitrogen per kilo milksolids. And it was great to see that DairyNZ publication yesterday of their research showing that New Zealand dairy farmers have the lowest environmental footprint in the world per kilo of milksolids. Another research program we are working on with, which is government-funded is a methane research program. This is a collaboration between LIC and CRV. And this is seeking to confirm a link between methane that cows produce and their genetics. And if we're able to do that, we'll be able to breed those [tracks] using genomics. Our AgCelerator fund, which we launched this year. This is an opportunity for us to partner with start-ups in the dairy industry in particular. And invest in those, but also partner with them to help develop their products and bring them to market. We made our first 2 investments during this last 6 months with more to come. And last but not least, MINDA. We're committed to continually improving MINDA LIVE and MINDA app. And over the past 6 months, we've invested $1.85 million delivering improvements to MINDA LIVE and the MINDA app, and another $1.4 million planned to be spent in the second 6 months of this year. We've made 58 improvements, which were suggested by LIC shareholders, including reporting enhancements, the ability to add important notes against animals, giving notifications from the app related health treatments and providing a list of animal scan with a (inaudible) many others that were provided. We've also continued to invest a substantial amount of money to support traceability and biosecurity compliance. We've been working closely with NAIT and OSPRI to improve the connection between MINDA and the NAIT product, and that investment will be continuing as NAIT continues to invest as well. Lastly, I just want to say we also added a team of people. So we had 24/7 monitoring of MINDA's performance now, and we are able to identify any reduction in performance and quickly move to improve that. And we are, apart from animal evaluation runs, we're now aiming for and achieving a 99% uptime for MINDA. That is a significant improvement on what we had previously, and we're going to be continuing to improve that performance over time, looking to try and reduce the amount of time the system is down for AE runs. And on that, Murray, I'll hand back to you. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Murray King, Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited - Independent Chairman [3] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Thanks, Wayne. So some interesting new innovations coming through there, which is good to see. And the other thing I'd just really keen to reiterate, this is the half year result, and it reflects the busiest time of our season. So most of the revenue has already come in. So it's not always a true reflection of the full year, as you'll appreciate. So we'll start the Q&A session now. (Operator Instructions) So I don't have any questions through the chat function at this stage. (Operator Instructions) Just noting we've got Dave Hazlehurst here too, our CFO, if there were any particular financial questions. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- David Hazlehurst, Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited - CFO [4] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks, Wayne. Hi, everyone. It would seem no one has any burning questions. I would remind shareholders, of course, though, that directors and shareholder reference group representatives are always available to answer any questions or to pass them back through to management if they need to. I'd also like to say that we do hope to do a little bit more shareholder engagement and more active shareholder engagement as we stated at the annual meeting last year with respect to keeping shareholders up-to-date with what's happening. And I think if you'll see just from what Wayne's outlined, there's a number of new initiatives which are coming through all the time in association with refinements to the work that we already do in a number of areas. Just with that, Murray, we will be doing a roadshow, directors and management and shareholder reference group representatives in the first half of the year. We haven't finalized the dates for that yet, but that we'll be updating all the work we're doing with MINDA, what we're doing with R&D, the governance changes and some other matters, which we'll be bringing forward to them. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Murray King, Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited - Independent Chairman [5] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And to just add that, that's going to be in multiple locations around the country, more than we've done last time, I think, about 18 stops. So getting to some of the more far-flung parts of the country, which don't always get served as well. Well, I don't see any questions coming through. So what I suggest is that if you do have a question, pass them through to me or to Wayne and his team, all through to directors or the shareholder reference group, and we can take them from there. So with that, I'll conclude and just suggest that -- and thank you, and that we continue to prioritize a sharper, deeper focus on investment and the areas where LIC is uniquely placed to drive value, to innovate and deliver positive impacts for our customers and our shareholders. So thank you again for your continued support, and we look forward to presenting the full year results later in the year. So thank you, and good day.