Costa shares lose double digits as CEO departs

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Investors took fright at the shock departure Monday of Costa Group (ASX:CGC) CEO Sean Hallahan after only 18 months in the job, with shares falling nearly 15% in what was something of a wipeout.

Costa is Australia’s largest fresh produce grower and Mr Hallahan (who has been with the company for a total of five years, including the last 18 months as CEO) was quite frank about his departure which wasn’t a sudden decision.

“Reaching my decision has been a process and there are several things that have gone into my decision,” he said in Monday’s statement. “It has been an intense couple of years in agriculture made even more challenging with the overlay of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Former CEO Harry Debney, the man Hallahan replaced, has been named as stand-in CEO until a new full-time person has been found

Costa chairman Neil Chatfield praised Hallahan’s performance in delivering strong company results while managing the impacts of the pandemic and extreme weather conditions.

The La Nina driven heavy rain, floods and humidity of the past two years inflicted significant damage on Costa’s citrus crops, especially oranges from central Queensland in late summer and autumn.

The news comes on top of the latest avocado glut which has driven down returns.

And all this after more than two years of disruptions from Covid and associated lockdowns which damaged demand and saw labour shortages impact harvesting and sales volumes and prices.

Costa’s interim revenue was up 15.7% to nearly $709 million and underlying profit rise nearly 11% to $49.2 million.

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