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GrainCorp pleased with FY13 start | Updated: 5:37:38 PM, Friday December 21, 2012

GrainCorp has had a positive start to fiscal 2013 with a smooth harvest and strong export demand.

Chief executive Alison Watkins told the company’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Thursday that while it was too early to issue an earnings forecast she was very comfortable with the crop forecast and rate of receivables.

‘We’ve seen a relatively smooth harvest with grain coming into our bins and strong export demand for our grain,’ she said.

Ms Watkins said company forecasted receivables of 10 to 11 million tonnes and bulk grain exports of eight to 8.5 million tonnes and the grain so far was of a good quality.

Chairman Don Taylor told shareholders that the grains marketer and malt producer had not been distracted by the recent attention of suitor US food processing giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

ADM had made two takeover bids for GrainCorp during the past two months, both of which had been rejected.

The US company first made a $2.7 billion offer in October, then lifted the bid to $2.78 billion earlier this month.

Mr Taylor told the meeting that both bids significantly undervalued the company.

One shareholder raised his concerns about the corporate governance of ADM and others asked how GrainCorp valued the company.

Mr Taylor said GrainCorp used a number of methodologies to value the company and while he would not rule out further talks with ADM, assured shareholders that the board would only act in their best interests.

‘We’ve had records almost throughout the business and now we’ve become the prettiest girl in town and someone has made a proposal to us – a materially undervalued proposal at this stage,’ he said.

He also said the company remained focused on new initiatives outlined in November to increase earnings and shareholder value.

Mr Taylor acknowledged that the high Australian dollar had probably hurt GrainCorp’s business but said strong world prices for grain had offset some of the damage.

‘Fortunately at the moment we have reasonably robust world prices so the effect of the dollar is not as severe as it could be if we were in a lower price regime,’ he said.

He said as well as affecting the value of exports the high Australian dollar often impacted on the volume of crops farmers could afford to plant.

Mr Taylor said the business would benefit from the Australian dollar falling to around 90 US cents.

‘Ninety cents is a much better number and we’d see farmers planting more crops as a result of that,’ he said.

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