Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Recently listed Premier Fishing (PremFish) — a subsidiary of African Empowerment Equity Investments (AEEI) — looks set to land big profits for the year to end-August.

Interim results released on Thursday showed earnings for the six months to end-February coming in 33% higher at R18m or about 13c per share.

Due to seasonal factors, PremFish — a big player in the south coast and west coast lobster markets — traditionally earns more than two-thirds of its revenue and profit in the second half.

AEEI CEO Khalid Abdulla said the encouraging interim showing suggested PremFish would meet its pre-listing earnings forecasts.

The core lobster segment was the star performer, with sales of R86m yielding succulent pre-tax profits of R16m.

PremFish CEO Samir Saban said the lobster division experienced increased landings due to good catch rates as well as a good size mix.

The smaller squid division managed R5m of profit from revenue of R15m, while the abalone farming business produced profits of R4.6m from revenue of R19m.

PremFish’s pelagic operations laboured in the interim period with Sagan reporting lower pilchard landings. But the hake segment improved sales volumes with profit up more than 45% to R5m.

PremFish also provided a breakdown of its main geographic markets, disclosing that 35% of total revenue was generated in the US, 25% in the Far East and 17% in Europe.

Vunani Securities analyst Anthony Clark described PremFish’s profit performance as a solid set of maiden numbers. But he said the market was watching the company’s strategy to expand operations via strategic acquisitions, as well as the ramping-up of production at the abalone farming facilities.

Abdullah cautioned that PremFish would not be rushing into acquisitions. "The market does not want us to overpay for acquisitions, and some vendors are asking for prices based on 14 to 15 times earnings. We’d rather sit tight and wait for the right opportunities."

Saban confirmed the expansion of the abalone farm would commence shortly — an exercise that expands the Gansbaai based facility from 100 tonnes to 300 tonnes.

© Business Day

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