Nufarm eyes greener pastures
AGRICULTURAL chemical supplier Nufarm continues to lean on its overseas businesses as the eastern Australia drought dries out local income, but managing director Greg Hunt insists geographic diversification has the company on track for full-year growth.
Mr Hunt told shareholders at the annual general meeting yesterday the 2018 Australian winter crop is expected to fall 20 per cent below the two-decade average, with eastern states’ forecast alone about 40 per cent lower.
But the company said it has grown revenues and underlying profit in North America and South America, while its newly acquired product portfolios in Europe were performing well despite also being hampered by dry conditions. Nufarm shares spiked at yesterday’s open but fell 1.46 per cent to $6.09 at 1305 AEDT, down from an eight-year high of $9.74.
“We are confident the changes and improvements we have made to the business and the growth platforms we have developed will continue to generate increased value for shareholders,” Mr Hunt said.
Assuming average seasonal conditions, Mr Hunt said he expects 2019 underlying earnings to be in a range of $500 million to $530 million, well up on the $386 million generated in 2018. ANTHONY KEANE
TENS of thousands of homeowners who plan to earn extra cash over Christmas by renting out bedrooms or their homes are being warned of a potentially painful insurance sting.
A boom in short stay rental platforms such as Airbnb has put an estimated 140,000 short-term landlords at risk because guest damage or theft is most likely not covered by their home and contents insurance policy.
The Insurance Council of Australia is issuing a fresh warning after hearing “frightening stories” of properties being stripped or trashed by short-term renters.
Its Understand Insurance initiative says people should phone their insurance company and check their cover before opening their home to strangers, because only a small proportion of policies will protect them.
Understand Insurance’s Lisa Kable said one recent case involved a couple offering a weekend rental of their “beautiful beachside property” with rear lane access.
“That rear lane access made it easy for the people who shipped in for the weekend to ship everything out of the home through the back lane,” she said.
The owners returned to find their property empty, lodged an insurance claim for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then found they were not covered.
“Owners may not realise that most insurers regard short-term holiday rental as a commercial use of the property because the likelihood something will go wrong is higher,” Ms Kable said.
Short-stay rentals have surged through platforms including Airbnb, Stayz, Homeaway and Flipkey, and even global hotel accommodation site Booking.com has expanded into the arena.
Ms Kable said potential landlords should not rely on a rental platform’s host protection insurance, because there were gaps in the cover, and should read their policy’s product disclosure statement.
“There are ways to cover yourself and your belongings. There are products out there,” she said.
However, only about 5 per cent of property owners use them despite such policies costing about $5 a day.
Landlord insurance company Terri Scheer says its short-stay insurance policies only apply when an entire property is rented out, not a spare bedroom.
Terri Scheer executive manager Carolyn Parrella said damage by tenants was not always malicious or intentional.
“Even the best-behaved guests can accidentally cause damage, such as spilling a drink on carpet,” she said.
“As an Airbnb host of a CBD apartment myself, I’d encourage other property owners to check guests’ prior reviews and references before accepting bookings, and enforcing strict check-in processes and house rules, to help prevent potential tenant-related issues.”
Ms Kable said the insurance issues could also work in reverse, with travellers who stayed in accommodation offered through home sharing platforms less likely to be covered by insurance if they suffered injury or theft.
Holiday lease disaster: A home after things went very wrong for the owners who had let it via an online platform.