Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, said sales plunged 14% in first half. 

Revenue in the six months to 31 January declined to NZ$9.7bn, down from NZ$11.3bn in the year ago period. The company said selling prices had been hit by an oversupply of milk. 

Reported EBIT rose 16% to NZ$483m but on a normalised basis EBIT fell to NZ$376m, down 7%. Net profit after tax totaled NZ$183m, down 16% on the year. 

The cooperative held its farmgate milk price at $4.70 per kg but lowered its forecast dividend at 20-30 cents per share. 

"These half-year results are below our farmers’ expectations, in a period when the Farmgate Milk Price is low and we are reducing the forecast dividend range," chairman John Wilson said. "Our half-year results are a snapshot of tough conditions in dairy with variable production, demand and pricing.  There was also the challenge of generating profit from inventory made in the previous financial year when the cost of milk was higher, but sold in the first quarter of the financial year when global dairy prices were falling."

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