The company has continued to focus on improving productivity across the business, and this has contributed $113m towards offsetting the $160 m impact of the higher New Zealand dollar and the reduction in hedge income compared with 2003. A key highlight for the year was strong production across the company. For the quarter, operating EBIT was $62m; $9m, or 13 per cent lower than the September quarter. The main reasons for this were lower pulp prices, the strong New Zealand dollar and lower sales volumes in the Wood Products segment. This was offset by record sales volumes in the Pulp and Paper segment.
Carter Holt Harvey CEO, Peter Springford, says while the year had been demanding, particularly in relation to export markets, the company had made significant progress on a number of fronts during 2004: “While a number of external factors have impacted our operations during the year, we have been getting on with the fundamentals of improving productivity across the business and as a result we have achieved a broad-based improvement during 2004.
“Production at our Kinleith facility achieved an all time record of 581,704 tonnes; 49,614 tonnes better than the previous best year in 2002. The Whakatane cartonboard mill wet-end upgrade is now consistently meeting ramp up targets, and our Penrose recycling mill capped off a good year with record sales volumes.
“We also saw increased earnings from our Packaging Australia business due to a focus on productivity, business restructures in the carton division, and improved sales mix in the corrugated division.
“The company’s off-market bid for Australian carton business Wadepack Ltd supports the development of our Australian packaging business and the announcement of the potential sale of a significant amount of the company’s forest estate has generated strong interest from prospective purchasers”, Springford says.
Carter Holt Harvey is a leading Australasian leading forest products company, with significant interests in wood products, pulp, paper and packaging, supported by forests. Leading Carter Holt Harvey brands include Customwood, Pinex, Bestwood, Kopine and PTP, and the company’s packaging can be found in most supermarket aisles. Carter Holt Harvey is listed on both the NZX and ASX, and employs approximately 10,200 people across New Zealand, Australia, China and throughout Asia. The company’s head office is in Auckland, New Zealand.