SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — GrainCorp said on May 14 that a smaller crop in eastern Australia contributed to a half-year drop in EBITDA to A$136 million compared to A$166 million a year earlier.

The company said net profit after tax and significant items was A$30 million compared to A$50 million a year earlier. The company remains on track to report 2015 EBITDA in the range of A$240-A$270 million and net profit after tax of A$45-A$60 million, said Mark Palmquist, managing director and chief executive officer.

“The smaller crop in eastern Australia last year means it’s been a tougher period for Storage & Logistics and Marketing. Lower production translated to reduced grain throughput and exports. However, we are starting to see the improved efficiencies associated with Project Regeneration and expect these to show through when crops return to normal levels.

“GrainCorp Oils has had a solid first half. There has been significant progress on the growth projects in the Liquid Terminals business and good sales volumes and margins for the oilseed crushing business. After a challenging period, GrainCorp Foods has stabilized its volumes, however there remains some way to go to returning this to a higher margin business,” Palmquist said.

Sales volumes for the Marketing business were comparable with last year, but there has been greater margin pressure associated with the shorter supply, he said.

“We have remained disciplined in our trading positions, but expect the strong competition from other origins to continue in the second half. It is pleasing to see an increasing proportion of grain sales originated from our international offices and we intend to continue the growth of our global presence,” Palmquist said.

GrainCorp has also reported a continued improvement in safety performance, with the rolling 12-month Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) 14% lower than 2014. Interim dividend and current seasonal conditions GrainCorp’s board has declared a fully franked interim dividend of A7.5¢ per share (cps), which represents a payout ratio of 49% of operating NPAT.

“Plantings are well advanced in many growing areas, however progress has slowed substantially and further rain is needed across the grain belt to complete planting and help crops establish. Generally, conditions are looking more favorable in the eastern half of the eastern Australian grain belt; areas further inland remain very dry,” Palmquist said.