KWS continues to grow corn business
Annual Shareholders’ Meeting 2005
Dividend unchanged at 11 euros – Executive and Supervisory Boards discharged almost unanimously – Criticism of the government’s Genetic Engineering Act
(Einbeck, January 18, 2005/gf) – Today’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting of KWS SAAT AG has decided to pay a dividend of 11 euros a share. The reason for this attractive dividend is the company’s strong sales and earnings performance in fiscal 2003/2004, which ended on June 30, 2004. The KWS Group increased sales by 4.6% to €443.7 million compared with the previous year’s €424.3 million. This growth would even have amounted to 8.1% had it not been for the depreciation of the U.S. dollar. Despite intensified sales and breeding activities, net income was €28.3 million, almost on a par with last year’s figure of €28.9 million. Of the parent company KWS SAAT AG’s net income (€14.8 million), half was distributed as a dividend and half transferred to the surplus reserves. The meeting, which was attended by over 500 shareholders representing 80% of the leading seed breeder’s share capital, discharged the Supervisory and Executive Boards with only four votes opposing the resolution.
In the past fiscal year, KWS strongly expanded its corn segment in particular. Sales last year grew by a double-digit rate of 11.1% and accounted for 43% of business volume (previous year: 40.5%). The seed breeding company intends to continue expanding this segment. At the end of December, KWS’ subsidiary AgReliant bolstered its market position by purchasing a U.S. company. "We are now the fourth-strongest corn breeding company in the U.S., and we will stay on our growth path," said Dr. Andreas J. Büchting at the Shareholders Meeting. "We also want the share of foreign sales to continue to grow." At present, the Einbeck-based company generates 71% of its revenue outside Germany.
The company hopes to spur growth above all from new varieties and thus intends to invest around 15% of sales in research and development in the future. Apart from products for traditional and ecological cultivation, KWS is also counting on genetically enhanced varieties. At the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, Büchting criticized the Genetic Engineering Act that has been passed. "Germany will miss the boat in genetic research, and professional jobs in research cannot now be created here."
The free float of KWS shares increased in December 2004 from 8% to just over 33%. As part of a re-placement of shares, there was good demand for the KWS shares held by Südzucker AG and Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank AG, primarily from institutional investors in Germany, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Austria. The placement was oversubscribed 1.9 times at a price of €610 a share.
The Executive Board was optimistic about prospects for the current fiscal year 2004/2005 and expects to see sales grow again.
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