WINNIPEG - Ag Growth International Inc. (TSX: AFN) ("AGI", or the "Company") today announced the declaration of a cash dividend of $0.20 per common share for the month of March 2020. The dividend will have a record date of March 31, 2020 and will be paid on April 15, 2020. The dividend is an eligible dividend for Canadian income tax purposes. Today's announcement is being made in advance of AGI's quarterly earnings release, as is normal practice, as AGI's Q4 2020 scheduled release date of March 25, 2020 occurs too late to meet regulatory advance notice requirements. Going forward, out of an abundance of caution due to the uncertainties in the current environment, dividend announcements will be made on a monthly basis. AGI's current annualized cash dividend rate is $2.40 per share.Click here to see more...
Due to the unprecedented environment AGI is providing the following information to address investor inquiries.
Management reiterates its previously released guidance with respect to Q4 2019 of adjusted EBITDA of approximately $23 million. Business activity in Q1 2020 prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 was in line with management expectations, and AGI's sales order backlog remains higher than at the same time in 2019. Our liquidity metrics are strong and covenant levels are well below required thresholds, in part due to an $85 million bond issuance in January 2020, the proceeds of which were applied against senior debt.
At this point in time, it is difficult to predict the duration and extent of the pandemic and its impact on our business. The emergence of COVID-19 is expected to impact results in the short-term. However, AGI remains confident in the macro business outlook notwithstanding the expected impact from the COVID crisis in the coming months due to expectations of robust demand in our North American Farm markets as we move into the planting season with strong backlogs, positive indications of soil moisture and stabilizing global demand. In addition, AGI's international backlog remains very strong and above 2019 levels, with strength in India, Brazil, EMEA and Southeast Asia.
AGI's manufacturing footprint is heavily weighted toward North America and these facilities are currently operating at normal capacity. In Europe, border closures have resulted in supply chain and delivery delays. Due to travel restrictions and self-quarantine initiatives, AGI has ceased production at its Sabe facility in France and anticipates possible production interruptions at its facilities in Italy, the UK and Brazil. In India and Brazil, production is currently operating at normal capacity. Like the rest of the world, we are monitoring these operations on a very fluid basis. During disruptions in production all of our facilities are continuing with design and engineering work critical to continuing to execute against our backlog and pipeline to best position our business for resumption of operations. Due largely to the impact on operations in EMEA, management currently anticipates a negative impact on sales and adjusted EBITDA in the first and second quarters, and we plan to provide a more fulsome update on business conditions when we release fourth quarter results on March 25, 2020.
"In these unprecedented times we are focused on the safety of our employees, their families, and doing our part to minimize the overall impact of this pandemic", said Tim Close, President and CEO of AGI. "While we expect near term impact on our some of our facilities, we remain confident in our business returning to our pre-crisis expectations as the world normalizes. Our customers form the backbone of the world's food infrastructure, a part of the economy that is critical in good times and that much more so in times like these. Our products and services are imbedded in each stage of food production from planting through harvest, and we supply systems around the world to transport, protect, and process the world's grain supply. Demand for the world's grain supply for our animals and for us doesn't take a break and we will stand by our team members and customers throughout this crisis to help ensure the world's food supply continues uninterrupted."