Unfavourable weather impacts Crookes Brothers interim yields from sugar cane, bananas

Unfavourable regional weather negatively impacted yields from sugar cane and bananas reported by Crookes Brothers [JSE:CKS] over the six months until the end of September 2021.

The southern African company has agricultural operations in the KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape, as well as in Swaziland, Zambia and Mozambique.

Sugar cane and hanging macadamia nuts represented R53.2 million of the group’s reduction in operating profit compared to the previous interim period. An industry-wide reduction in bunch mass arising from the unfavourable weather may, however, impact favourably on banana prices due to less fruit being available in the open market.

Over the interim period the group’s revenue increased by 9% to R448 million. Profit declined by 62% to R17.5 million and the headline loss per share was 51.2 cents compared to headline earnings of R1.51 per share in the interim period last year. Mindful of the need to conserve cash, the board has decided not to declare an interim dividend.

As for its deciduous fruit operations, the group said in a statement on Wednesday that a large portion was packed in the first six months of the year and it remains cautiously optimistic about achieving budgeted yields.

Covid-19 and the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal in July impacted the group’s property division due to resultant muted interest in residential property along the KZN south and north coast. Notwithstanding this impact, the property division achieved an operating profit of R3 million for the interim period. Revenue from the property division increased by 142% to R16 million.

Over the interim period the group also successfully commissioned a solar project rollout at five sites in Eswatini. It expects this will result in a more reliable supply of electricity. The group is investigating the viability of expanding solar generation capability throughout its operations.