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Harare - Zimbabwe-listed Padenga Holdings on Monday said it remained confident that current prices would hold as appetite for crocodile skin held despite the fact that meat consumption had gone down.

The firm said the skin market had been unmatched by meat sales with the Asian market that looked lucrative in previous years now effectively closed.

It said revenue for the full year to December 2016 rose from $27.4 million (R340.63 million) to $31.2 million, leading to a dividend of 83 cents per share for the period.

Padenga said turnover increased 7 percent to $27.5 million while basic earnings per share rose to 1.65c.

The company said it expected to sell 46 000 premium quality skins in 2017.

"Demand for top quality skins remains steady and prices are expected to hold,” Padenga chairperson Alexandra Calder said.

Padenga said crocodile culling rose 4 percent to 47806 during the period while the quality and grade of skins sold also marginally increased nearly 1 percent.

“Demand from Europe for crocodile meat cuts remained low during the period and export prices were depressed,” Calder said.

“There were no meat sales to the Asian market and this market has effectively closed.”

The company recorded a 24 percent decline in crocodile meat sales volumes to 220 tons.

This also saw turnover from the category decline by a massive 25 percent.

Padenga said the debtors book increased nearly $8 million as a result of “culling into the last quarter to December and shipping the skins” just before year end, thereby affecting its revenue base.

Padenga runs crocodile farms around Kariba and the Zimbabwean unit accounts for about 88 percent of the group’s turnover.

During the year under review, Padenga developed about 40 new grower pens “to facilitate the earlier movement of yearlings from hatchling pens in spring each year”.

The US unit, Lone Star Alligator Farms business - in which Padenga owns 68 percent - was affected by “softening prices for watch band-size skins.”

Padenga said Lone Star raised volumes but had high low quality products, resulting in operating losses of $614 000 for the period.

It said it now expected Lone Star to return to profitability by the end of next year.