SOUTH AFRICA – Astral Foods Limited (Astral), South Africa’s leading integrated poultry producer, has appointed Mr. Gary Arnold, as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Astral with effect from 1 October 2021.

This new position has been introduced with a specific mandate to optimise expansion opportunities and continuous improvement initiatives, whilst effectively allocating capital and human resources across all Astral divisions.

Mr. Arnold, who is currently the Managing Director of Astral’s Agriculture Division, will continue to report to the Chief Executive Officer of the company.

He has been with the Group in various Executive positions for 25 years, and his qualifications include a BSc Agriculture (Hons), MSc Agriculture and Master of Business Administration degrees.

The poultry company has also appointed, Mr. Frans van Heerden as an Executive Director of Astral with effect from 1 October 2021.

Mr. van Heerden started his career within the Group when he joined Astral’s Internal Audit Department 15 years ago.

He was subsequently appointed to different Financial Management roles within the Group and on 1 June 2017 was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the Central Region Poultry Commercial operations.

On 1 November 2020, he was appointed as the Managing Director of the Group’s Poultry Commercial Division.

Mr. van Heerden is a qualified Chartered Accountant and holds a diploma in National Auditing.

High input costs to hurt Astral’s earnings

Astral’s earnings per share (EPS) and headline earnings per share (HEPS) for its 2021 financial year ending 30 September 2021, are expected to be not more than 25% down on the previous comparable year ended 30 September 2020 reported results of 1 435 cents per share for EPS and 1 441 cents per share for HEPS.

EPS will be at least 1 076 cents per share and HEPS at least 1 081 cents per share for the 2021 financial year.

The decline in performance is attributed mainly to higher input costs.

The company in the first half year period reported a 7% rise in revenue for the period ended March, from R7 billion (US$500m) attained in the previous corresponding period to R7.5 billion (US$535.5m).

This was achieved through a combination of increased broiler sales volumes and a below inflationary increase in selling prices.

However, the company’s profit line took a hit as its operating profit declined by 37% to R345 million (US$24m).

The poultry company’s half-year earnings were hurt by imports and high feed input costs in its poultry division.

According to the group, the price of broiler feed shot by 17 percent on a rand a ton basis because of high raw material costs.

Meanwhile, poultry imports remained high during the period, with average monthly poultry imports equaling about 26 percent of local consumption, at an average of 39 705 tons a month.

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