Thursday, January 17, 2008

Atlas South Sea Pearl reaffirms guidance

source: The Sydney Morning Herald


January 17, 2008 - 5:32PM

Pearl farmer Atlas South Sea Pearl Ltd says it expects its harvest to increase in 2008 and reconfirmed its net profit guidance for calendar 2007.

Atlas expects a net profit of around $5.4 million for its just-ended financial year, which finished on 31 December 20007, although results are subject to audit and board approval.

The Western Australia-based company, which specialises in producing white, silver and gold South Sea pearls, harvested 185,600 pearls in 2007, down from 234,200 in 2006.

Atlas said although the quantity of pearls harvested declined in 2007, the average pearl size was larger.

It expects to harvest more than 200,000 pearls in 2008.

The company said pearl quality has been enhanced over the past few years.

"The ongoing genetics research that is being undertaken with James Cook University (in Townsville) is already having a positive impact on the company's farming practices," it said.

"Breeding has commenced with selected oyster families with strong growth traits."

Through its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Cendana Indopearls, Atlas operates pearl farms across the Indonesian archipelago, including Bali, Lombok and West Papua.

In 2008, a new pearling venture in Sabah, Malaysia, will begin, which the company says will allow it to expand its jewellery manufacturing capabilities.

"Malaysia is likely to provide better opportunities for expanding Atlas's pearl jewellery manufacturing capabilities.

"It has a strong jewellery industry and a well-educated and trained workforce."

Atlas said planning was underway for it to expand this part of the business.

"Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and other South-East Asian countries are attractive in terms of expanding the jewellery brand through retail outlets, either owned or licensed."

In 2007, Atlas paid a fully franked dividend of 4 cents per share.

Atlas shares closed up 2.5 cents to 41 cents.

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