Weathering the storm

23 March 2001

Weathering the storm

THE share price of some agri-businesses and food processors has been hit hard by the fall-out from foot-and-mouth, but other companies appear to be weathering the storm.

Artificial insemination specialist Genus has seen its stock tumble 33% to 87.5p. The firms advisers are unable to make farm visits and as a consequence cash flow has been suffocated.

Chief executive Richard Wood says it is difficult to predict what the long-term effects will be, but adds business has halved since the crisis began.

The epidemic has also been blamed partially for recent problems at Express Dairies, which saw its shares decrease in value by almost 20% to 49p earlier this week, after the company issued a profits warning and cut the dividend.

The milk business blamed most of the loss on excess capacity in the UK liquid milk industry but said uncertainty caused by foot-and-mouth was clouding the outlook for the year ahead.

Rival milk company Dairy Crest has fared better, but its share price has still slipped to 249p, a drop of over 5% on the week.

The performance of Uniq has actually picked up over recent days but stocks have been languishing all year, dragged down by problems at its bacon off-shoot Malton Foods. Shares in Robert Wiseman Dairies had been steady until Tuesday morning when they fell by 6% to 112p.

Shares in pig meat group Cranswick have fallen by £1 to 315p since the crisis began. Finance director John Lindop says this drop is entirely down to foot-and-mouth. "Before we were slaughtering 15,000 pigs/week, now it is only 10,000." &#42

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