(News Bulletin 247) – A few days before the publication of its annual accounts, the number one poultry company expressed its concerns about the spread of the avian flu epidemic after a resurgence of cases in the south-west of France. France.

While no case had been recorded since mid-April, the avian flu epidemic is picking up again in the south-west of France. Fifty cases that have been identified, according to a last score established last Friday. Brazil, which is the world’s largest exporter of poultry, is not spared and recorded its first case of avian flu on Monday.

This resurgence of the epidemic is of primary concern to professionals in the sector, including LDC, the European leader in the poultry market. The company that owns the Loué or Marie brands expressed its fears at the end of last week about a new epidemic which had ravaged poultry production last year.

“We are not at all reassured,” Philippe Gelin, managing director of LDC, told Reuters. “The risk is that what we have put in place to fight the virus in Vendée will be rendered ineffective by overproduction or even a return to normal levels of duck production in this region”, he continues. In 2022, bird flu killed hundreds of millions of birds worldwide, including 50 million poultry on European soil alone.

Preventive measures

In April 2022, the group based in Sablé sur Sarthe had already been forced to take measures when several sources of contamination had been identified within farms in Vendée and Loire-Atlantique. A few weeks earlier, LDC had already raised the possibility of reducing or even stopping slaughter on some of its sites, recalls L’écho Flechois.

As a result of these alerts, LDC announced that it anticipates a drop in volumes on the poultry market of around 30% in the coming months. But the number one in poultry could count on its various locations to contain the drop in its available volumes by around 20% over the period from March to August 2022, which corresponds to the first half for LDC.

This epidemic was not neutral on the group’s volumes over the whole of the 2022-2023 financial year (ended at the end of March). Over the period, they fell by 6.2%, penalized by the episode of avian influenza which affected the Vendée and South-West farms during the 1st half and at the end of its staggered financial year.

In addition to the avian flu epidemic, LDC must also deal with the rise in the price of raw materials, making its current operating conditions even more difficult. The group indicates in its annual activity report that it has been able to pass on increases in the prices of raw materials and its costs to its poultry customers in France and abroad. In this context, sales for the 2022-2023 financial year amounted to 5.8 billion euros, up 15.3% compared to the previous financial year. This level of annual sales is in line with the company’s ambitions.

Publication of the annual accounts on May 24 after market

LDC thus confirms all of the objectives set within the framework of its strategic plan, namely to cross the threshold of 7 billion euros in turnover within 4 years. This ambition must be accompanied by an increase in profitability with an EBITDA target of nearly 560 million euros for the 2026-2027 financial year, materializing an increase of 40% compared to 2021-2022.

In the meantime, the group aims for 2022-2023 to achieve a current operating margin of around 5% of turnover, against a previous forecast “of at least 4.5%”. To find out more, it will be necessary to wait a few days, LDC will confirm whether or not the achievement of this objective during the publication of its annual accounts 2022-2023, this Wednesday after the market.

On the Paris Stock Exchange, LDC advances by 0.9% to 116 euros, a level of course giving the file a valuation that exceeds 2 billion euros.