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Thailand’s TUF eyes $2bn 2008 sales


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Thailand’s TUF eyes $2bn 2008 sales
Thai Union Frozen Products PCL, Asia’s biggest canned tuna exporter, expects its 2008 sales may exceed $2 billion, 11 percent more than an earlier target of $1.8 billion, on strong tuna sales and new products, said Reuters on Thursday.

“We anticipate strong growth in our second-half operation this year based on our past proven records that usually show good performance during the second-half periods,” Reuters quoted company president Thiraphong Chansiri as saying in a statement.

TUF, whose key “Chicken of the Sea” brand accounts for about one-third of earnings, recorded sales of $996 million for the first half, with tuna making up half the total and frozen shrimp about 19 percent, said the statement.

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Despite expectations of slowing global economic growth in coming months, TUF expects sales in the second half will get a boost from key markets including the United States, Europe and Japan, and from good demand for its new products such as canned sardines in new markets such as South Africa, a company official said.

Sales of basic goods such as canned tuna typically increase during leaner economic times, the company noted.

It did not give a 2008 net profit forecast. Twelve analysts polled by Reuters Estimates forecast a 2008 net profit of 1.82 billion baht, about flat from 2007.

TUF posted a below-forecast 6.2 percent fall in net profit for April-June to 403.4 million baht amid rising production costs.

Tuna stocks worldwide are dwindling from overfishing, pushing prices sharply higher. TUF said stocks of the main tuna species used in its products, skipjack, were not falling as quickly, but costs were rising.

Chicken of the Sea’s share of the US market is about 20 percent, behind Del Monte Food Co’s StarKist and Bumble Bee Seafoods, a unit of Connors Brothers Income Fund of Canada.

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