NZ's a2 Milk dashes revenue hopes, shares drop 20 pct

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A2 Milk, which this year became New Zealand's biggest company by market capitalisation, last year reported net income of $90.6 million for the 12 months to June, up from $30.4m a year earlier.

a2, which relies heavily on sales to China, said it expected revenue for the 2018 financial year of NZ$900 million ($617.4 million) to NZ$920 million, compared with NZ$549.5 million the previous year.

Marketing investment spending in the year is expected to be in a range of $82 million-to-$87 million, reflecting increased spending in the United States and China.

A2 Milk's share price dropped by more than 20 per cent this morning despite the alternative milk company reporting a 70 per cent cent increase in revenue for the nine months to March 31.

a2's revenues more than tripled in the three years to June 2017 as its infant formula was embraced by Chinese parents, driving its shares up more than 600 percent since the start of 2016.

A2's "crime" was that its sales forecast for the year fell about 4 per cent below market expectations of around $950m and the stock was savagely sold down as a result.

"When they don't meet market expectations, they get a caning by the market", he said.

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Harbour's Rimer said that had it not been for the rebranding, a2 Milk's projection would have beaten market expectations "handsomely".

In an global investor presentation released on Wednesday, a2's managing director Geoffrey Babidge said the company's growth reflected "increasing consumer acceptance of our brand and the benefits of dairy-based products free from the A1 beta casein protein type".

On liquid milk, sales had continued to rise, with the company's market share of this market now at 9.6 per cent.

A2 Milk previously forecast marketing spend for the full year to be in the range of $NZ61 million to $NZ65 million.

A2 Milk believes that the A2 beta-casein protein milk is better for people, particularly those who have trouble digesting milk.

The strong analyst forecasts had come after the company doubled its first-half profit to $NZ98.47 million on the back of strong growth in infant formula and liquid milk sales in core markets.

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