Earlier this month, Calgary’s Hemisphere GPS (TSX:HEM) reported Q2, 2012 numbers that reflected problems beyond the scope of its own control. The company’s revenue of $19.6-million was a 3% decrease from revenues of $20.1-million it reported in the same period last year.
A closer look revealed the culprit was the massive drought in the United States. Sales to the US were down 14%, and increased sales to the Canadian market were not enough to offset the impact of the US drought, which has been described as the worst in a half-century.
Hemisphere CEO Steven Koles characterized the situation: “Primarily due to these drought conditions we have tempered our growth expectations for the year down to 10 per cent. However our mid- to long-term outlook remains attractive despite the unfavourable weather and crop conditions this year.” Koles added: “Incentive remains with farmers to invest in productive technology, and we have made several product releases recently with a major product release slated for the autumn buying season.”
New filings suggest the optimistic depiction isn’t just idle chatter. On August 2nd, Koles bought 14,000 shares of Hemisphere GPS in the open market at $.68 cents. The buy followed a purchase he made in May. The Hemisphere GPS CEO was joined by the company’s VP Technology Michael Whitehead, who bought 6000 shares at $.663 cents yesterday.
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Hemisphere GPS designs and sells equipment for the positioning and guidance of agricultural equipment. Precision farming, or precision agriculture, is a term that only began to gain traction at the end of the last century, but since that time it has become an increasingly important method of increasing crop yield worldwide. The burgeoning industry has attracted the interest of farm equipment manufacturers like John Deere, and large agrochemical companies like Dow Elanco and Monsanto.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture now believes the greatest technology push in all agriculture has been in precision farming. The organization says that initial barriers to adoption, namely initial cost, uncertain economic returns, and technology complexity are beginning be overcome by small and medium sized producers. Larger producers it says, are firmly on-board because the “economies of scale and narrow profit margins provide an economic advantage.”
Shares of Hemisphere GPS closed today down 1.5% to $.66 cents.