Weekly Times: Global sharemarkets rise steadily.

But Australian Agribusiness a mixed bag.

Weekly Times – Agribusiness 28 October 2020

Global sharemarkets are approaching record levels. See which listed agribusinesses have performed well.

AUSTRALIAN listed agribusiness companies have experienced mixed fortunes seven months after sharemarkets around the world crashed on March 23.

An analysis of share prices for a number of agribusiness has seen some of the previous top performers stumble, while those that have risen in price have varied from steady increases to 9-10 times crash levels.

It comes as global sharemarket indices have largely returned to pre-coronavirus levels, with some well above previous records.

The Australian Securities Exchange’s All Ordinaries Index ended last week at 6374 points, or 39.7 per cent higher than the 4564 points it plummeted to when the sharemarket crashed on March 23.

It has now exceeded its level the day prior to the crash and was now at 88 per cent of its record level of 7255 points in February this year.

The Australian share market has recovered better than Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and the UK’s FTSE 100 Index, but was well behind Japan and the US sharemarkets.

The US technology index NASDAQ is about 17 per cent higher than its pre-coronavirus record set on February 19 this year and the S & P 500 Index, an index of trading in 500 top companies on a number of stock exchanges in the US, has also set a new record.

The largest agribusiness on the Australian Securities Exchange — The a2 Milk Company — ended last week at $14.45 a share, or 6.5 per cent lower than its $15.44 price on March 23.

The second largest agribusiness by market capitalisation, Treasury Wine Estates, has also fallen in value to levels lower than when global sharemarkets crashed.  

It ended last week at a price of $8.98, well below its March 23 level of $9.25.

Of the companies with a market capitalisation higher than $1 billion, Elders has performed the best.

Its share price ended last week at $11.45, or 56 per cent higher than its level of $7.33 on March 23.

Elders managing director Mark Allison said the company’s strong performance has been driven by diversification under successive eight-point plans.

Mr Allison said Elders’ growth between the first eight-point plan and the second eight-point plan just being completed came half from organic growth, with the other 50 per cent from acquisitions, such as Australian Independent Rural Retailers.

“We have a return on capital model with an emphasis on (containing) costs and capital management, so that in bad seasons, we make good money and in good seasons, we make great money,” he said.

At $3.58, horticultural producer Costa Group Holdings’ share price was now 46 per cent higher than its crash level of $2.51.

Among the smaller sized agribusinesses, veterinary service provider Apiam Animal Health has performed well, with its share price about 80 per cent higher than its level of 41 cents when the market crashed.

Apiam Animal Health chief executive officer Chris Richards said COVID-19 had contributed to the group’s fortunes, with more people buying pets during the pandemic to keep them company.

“The level of pet ownership increased significantly with people in lockdown,” Dr Richards said.

“Plus there were increased visits to vets, which coincided with our Best Mates program, a subscription model for pet care.

“On the farming side, our ProDairy program has also delivered growth in the dairy sector, also on the back of the excellent rainfall since January.”

Other strong performers on the ASX were regenerative agriculture company Wide Open Agriculture, whose share price was now nine times its March 23 level, and soil and animal health biotech company, Terragen, which was now trading at a multiple of five times its market crash level.