November 1, 2017 / 9:42 AM / a year ago

Salmon farmer Marine Harvest seeks organic, M&A growth

OSLO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Marine Harvest, the world’s largest fish farmer, aims to grow its business both organically and via acquisitions, Chief Executive Officer Alf-Helge Aarskog said when presenting record third-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

The company, which is controlled by billionaire investor John Fredriksen, announced a dividend of 3.4 Norwegian crowns per share, beating all forecasts in a Reuters poll, and reported earnings slightly above its earlier guidance.

Marine Harvest cut its own 2017 volume output forecast however, and also set a 2018 growth target slightly below the level seen by analysts.

The company expects a tight salmon market, with limited growth in supply and high demand in the time ahead.

“We have a very strong financial position, the strongest ever, and we are ready for growth, both organically and otherwise if we can find any good deals around,” Aarskog said.

“It seems we have been able to turn the cost curve and take it down, This is very good news for us,” he added.

Marine Harvest raised its expectation for the global industry’s 2017 supply growth to a 4-6 percent range from previously 3-5 percent, and announced a 2018 forecast of 4-9 percent growth.

“All in all we see a good underlying demand, supporting the development of salmon,” Aarskog said.

The company’s shares traded 1.9 percent higher for the day at 0920 GMT. (Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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