Norway's Mowi, the world's largest fish farming company, posted a bigger-than-expected drop in fourth-quarter profits, hit by a lower price of salmon amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The company's operating profit for the October-December period declined by 70% to €49 million ($59.2 million) from €166 million a year earlier, lagging an average forecast of 74.3 million in a Refinitiv poll of analysts.
Lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 have led to a sharp decline in demand for salmon from restaurants globally, fish farmers have said, although sales via grocery stores increased as more people cook at home.
Mowi, part of billionaire investor John Fredriksen's business empire, harvested 127,000 tonnes of salmon in the final three months of 2020, up from 116,300 a year earlier but lagging the 128,900 tonnes the company had forecast in late October.
Statistics Norway data showed salmon export prices averaged 48 Norwegian crowns ($5.60) per kilo in the fourth quarter, down from 60 crowns in the same period of 2019 as the traditional year-end upturn failed to materialise.
Mowi's share price has declined 16.5% in the last 12 months, compared with a 5.5% rise in Oslo's benchmark index.
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