Mowi misses first quarter forecast, postpones dividend amid coronavirus cost

OSLO (Reuters) - Mowi MOWI.OL, the world's largest fish farmer, posted weaker than expected first-quarter earnings on Monday and said costs were rising due to the impact on operations from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The board postponed its decision on whether to pay a dividend for the quarter, adding this could be made alongside a decision for the second quarter later this year.

“The situation is challenging for all and Mowi is no exception,” the company said.

Operating profits for the January-March period fell to 107 million euros ($116.3 million) from 196 million euros a year ago, while analysts on average had expected earnings of 149 million according to data collected by Refinitiv.

“While our operations have continued to run more or less normally so far, we are incurring more costs than usual due toextensive measures implemented internally and externally,” Mowi said.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and are ready to take further measures if needed,” it added.

Oslo-listed Mowi has paid dividends to shareholders of 2.6 Norwegian crowns in recent quarters, and analysts had expected a similar payout to continue.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Kim Coghill