Benchmark falls 11% amid results, coronavirus alert

Shares of Sheffield-based Benchmark Holdings, the aquaculture health, genetics and nutrition firm, fell 11% on Friday as it published results for the three months ended December 31, 2019 — and updated investors on the potential impact of the Coronavirus on its operations.

Benchmark said results were impacted by continuing market weakness in its advanced nutrition business — and that group revenues from continuing operations of £25 million were 15.5% below the prior year quarter.

Benchmark publishes quarterly results to comply with the terms of company’s senior secured bond.

“The company is monitoring the potential impact of the Coronavirus on its business,” said Benchmark.

“To date, the coronavirus has led to a suspension of shrimp imports to China, affecting shrimp producers principally in Ecuador and India.

“In addition, shrimp production in Vietnam and Thailand has decreased as a result of preventative measures constraining activities and consumption across Asian markets has declined.”

The company said it is accelerating its restructuring and cost savings plan to offset the continuing impact from adverse shrimp markets and that overall it expects to deliver on expectations for the full year.

Benchmark CEO Peter George said: “As expected, our first quarter saw a continuation of the trends reported at year end, with weak shrimp and Mediterranean seabass/bream markets affecting Advanced Nutrition and outweighing a good performance in Genetics. 

“So far the impact from coronavirus has been minimal but we remain cautious given our exposure to the Asian end markets.

“The submission of our regulatory dossier for BMK08, our novel sea lice treatment is a significant milestone.

“Following the recent fundraise we are in a strong financial position to prepare for the commercial launch.

“We remain on track to complete our planned disposals in 2020 and are accelerating our restructuring and cost savings programme which will help us offset the ongoing adverse conditions in Advanced Nutrition and deliver on expectations for the full year.”