OSLO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Norwegian fish farmer Salmar posted a steeper-than-expected decline in fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday and warned of weak salmon output volumes for the current quarter.
The company’s operating result before adjustments, a key measure of salmon industry profitability, fell to 658 million Norwegian crowns ($70.27 million) in the October-December quarter from 935 million a year before.
Analysts on average had predicted profit of 857 million crowns, forecasts collected by Refinitiv showed.
“The fourth quarter was weaker than expected,” said Gustav Witzoe, chief executive officer, in a statement.
“This is largely attributable to the Fish Farming Central Norway segment harvesting a large volume of salmon at the start of the quarter when the spot price was at its lowest point,” Witzoe said.
The company also forecast lower fish volumes from the Central Norway region in the first quarter of 2020.
Salmar said it is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak, adding that, “a potential market reduction in one area, may have impact in other markets”.
Salmon farmers have seen rising demand and higher prices in recent years as health conscious consumers added more fish to their diets, leading to a surge in the share price of companies in the industry.
Salmar’s shares have more than doubled since early 2018 and have risen by 10% in the last three months.
$1 = 9.3633 Norwegian crowns Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel