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Norway's farmed salmon prices hit lowest levels in years

Prices reach rock bottom, the market is flooded with fish.

Norwegian farmed salmon prices are swinging close to the NOK 40 (€4.05/$4.46) mark this week, however, analysts are unsure how long the low will last.

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"We believed prices hit bottom, but they've fallen even further," Nordea Markets Senior Analyst Kolbjorn Giskeodegard told IntraFish.

"In a nutshell, there seems to be an imbalance the amount of salmon in the market and how much the market can take."

Market is flooded

Price levels are now close to production costs for some salmon businesses -- a situation that most companies haven't experienced in 4-5 years.

Norwegian exports of salmon are up more than 30,000 metric tons compared to last year, while exports are also increasing from the United Kingdom, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Ironically, the improved production is the result of improved fish health.

"The industry had been struggling with biological issues and growth for several years but is now doing better than it has in a long time," the analyst said.

Demand for the fish is weaker than normal, however, driving prices lower than what the stock market expected, Danske Bank Equity Analyst Knut-Ivar Bakken told IntraFish.

Prices may remain on the low until after October according to Bakken's expectations.

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Given the low price level, Danske Bank has settled for a "hold" recommendation on most listed salmon company stocks.

Leroy Seafood is Danske Bank's top recommendation in salmon shares at the moment, the result in part of its "large smolt" strategy.

Salmon shares have fallen about 5.1 percent over the past week on the Oslo Stock Exchange, but are up 4 percent so far this year.

The consensus is that analysts' expectations of salmon farming companies' earnings are too high and need to be downgraded, Bakken said.

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