SHARES in C&C surged yesterday after the cider maker reiterated its guidance despite ongoing problems in the Irish market.
The company rose as much as 3.5pc after it said it remained on course to make an operating profit of around €110m for the full year -- about 10pc ahead of last year excluding the spirits and liqueurs division which has since been sold off.
The IMS, which covered the three months to November 3, but included commentary on the Christmas period, showed the international market was now the main driver of growth, with the UK and Irish sectors still stagnant. The decline in Ireland continued, with the on trade slumping yet again. Volumes of the flagship Bulmers cider in licensed premises fell again, this time by 11.6pc quarter on quarter.
While the off trade recorded some growth, there was not enough to counter the lost revenue from pubs and restaurants. Despite Bulmers's struggles here, C&C said they expect revenue from the Irish operation to be broadly in line with last year, especially after a strong Christmas period.
In the UK, Magners finally returned to growth, posting revenues of 0.2pc over the first nine months of the year.
Meanwhile, C&C has appointed Joris Brams as managing director of the company's international division.
Export volumes were up 25.3pc over the first nine months of the year, with what C&C called "good" growth in Australia and Canada and a "steady" performance in the US. Magners' export volume now represents 14.6pc of total Magners sold.
Davy Stockbrokers Barry Gallagher welcomed the results.
"While trading conditions in Ireland remain difficult, C&C appears to be managing the environment well, with the broadly flat performance on profitability for the year a strong indicator of this.
"The return to revenue growth of the Magners brand in the UK will be welcomed, while the increasingly visible importance of the growing international division is another key positive," he said.
C&C closed up 1.52pc at €3.15. Elsewhere, US spirits company Beam has completed the purchase of Cooley Distilleries in a deal worth some €75m on a debt free basis.