NZ's Fonterra H1 earnings fall 41 pct

WELLINGTON, March 26 Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:42pm EDT

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WELLINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) - New Zealand's Fonterra reported a 41 percent fall in first-half earnings on Wednesday as the company's margins were hit by higher costs, too much milk, and a lack of capacity to process higher-yielding products.

The co-operative, which controls about a third of global dairy exports, said normalised earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) fell to NZ$403 million ($344.81 million) for the six months to Jan. 31, compared with NZ$693 million a year ago.

It said net profit after tax fell 53 percent to NZ$217 million.

The company cut its interim dividend to 5 NZ cents per share compared with 16 cents last year, and reaffirmed it forecast to pay a full-year dividend of 10 cents per share.

In December, Fonterra warned that it expected full-year earnings to fall to around NZ$500 million-NZ$600 million from last year's NZ$1 billion. ($1 = 1.1688 New Zealand Dollars) (Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu)

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