Penrice: outlook very positive, chairman tells first AGM

At the first annual general meeting of Australian soda ash and limestone producer Penrice Soda Holdings Ltd. since listing in July 2005, chairman John Heard said the outlook remained very positive for…

At the first annual general meeting of Australian soda ash and limestone producer Penrice Soda Holdings Ltd. since listing in July 2005, chairman John Heard said the outlook remained very positive for the company“s three main products: soda ash, sodium bicarbonate and limestone. He said Penrice would benefit from the government decision to impose duties on imports of Chinese sodium bicarbonate, expanded plant capacity in South Australia and a worldwide shortage of soda ash. “Your company also believes there is great potential to expand sales of sodium bicarbonate in Japan and South-East Asia,” Mr Heard said. “Soda ash volumes are also forecast to rise, predominantly to the glass industry with the continued increase of wine bottle sales – particularly in the export market.” Mr Heard said the company made a disappointing start to its 2005-2006 financial year with an incident at its Osborne manufacturing plant in Adelaide. During a planned maintenance shutdown in July 2005, an equipment failure halted production for eight days. The plant resumed full operation in August but the incident was still expected to hit total production in the 2005-2006 financial year. “Every effort is being made by management to recover the shortfall over 2005-2006 but at the same time results are being impacted by higher operating costs, in particular fuel, freight and a continued high exchange rate,” Mr Heard said. Penrice also expects to pay an interim dividend in April 2006 and a final dividend in October 2006 totalling AUD 14.7 per share, fully franked.