(Reuters) -Australia's Graincorp on Wednesday raised its annual profit forecast for the second time, as the agribusiness firm continues to capitalise on a supply crunch from the war in Ukraine, aided by expectations of above-average East Coast Australian (ECA) crop.
Soaring prices and demand for grains amid ongoing geopolitical tensions had driven a five-fold jump in Graincorp's first-half profit, allowing it to pay a special dividend in early May.
Buyers looking to replace cargoes from Russia and Ukraine have turned to Australia, the world's sixth-largest wheat exporter, which is set to ship a record volume this year.
The company said it now expects fiscal 2022 underlying net profit after tax to be A$365 million ($254.08 million) to A$400 million, up from its earlier forecast of A$310 million to A$370 million and significantly higher than the A$139 million reported last year.
"This positive outlook is driving an increase in fourth-quarter activity and supporting export volumes, forward contracted grain sales and supply chain margins," Chief Executive Officer Robert Spurway said.
The agribusiness and processing businesses were on track to deliver record financial results, the company said, adding its supply chains were operating at close to full capacity to export grains.
"In preparation for the upcoming harvest, GrainCorp is investing in additional bunker storage and grain handling equipment to maximise receival capacity at key sites across our network," Spurway said.
Graincorp's profit upgrade was also encouraged by expectations of an above-average ECA crop in year 2022/23, combined with a favourable three-month rainfall outlook.
($1 = 1.4364 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)