Business Irish

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Kerry up on 'strong start' to the year

Edmond Scanlon
Edmond Scanlon
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Shares in Kerry Group shot up almost 4pc on the back of first quarter results yesterday. The Tralee-based food giant said earnings per share are on track to hit 5pc to 9pc this year.

Kerry reported 3.8pc growth in business volumes; including a 4.1pc increase in its Taste & Nutrition business and 2.3pc in Consumer Foods business volume growth.

The group said it completed a number of small bolt-on deals in the quarter and reached an agreement to acquire a Chinese sweet and savoury flavours business and commissioned two new production facilities in the Far East.

Analysts at Davy said Kerry had a "strong start to the year".

"In a food industry characterised by higher rates of new product development and product renovation, Kerry remains highly relevant. As anticipated, full-year guidance has been reiterated. We remain comfortable with our full year 2017 forecasts and reiterate our 'Outperform' rating."

The quarterly results show net debt stood at €1.2bn at the end of March, down from €1.3bn at the start of the period. The main impact of Brexit on the business was from the weakness in sterling.

That offset some of the gains from underlying margin expansion during the period. Outgoing CEO Stan McCarthy said that a highlight of the period was volume driven performance across the group's businesses, which maintained the momentum of 2016.

"Our first quarter highlights a good volume-driven performance across Group businesses, maintaining the momentum reported in 2016.

"The Group expects to achieve good revenue growth and 5-9pc growth in adjusted earnings per share in 2017, as previously guided," he said.

Mr McCarthy is due to retire in September after nine-and-a-half years in the role, and will be replaced by Edmond Scanlon. The 43-year-old joined Kerry as a graduate and has most recently been running the group's operations in Asia.

The group held its annual general meeting (AGM) in Tralee yesterday, with all resolutions proposed passed by shareholders including to re-elect directors and approve the company's executive pay report.

Shares closed up almost 4pc at €80.30 each.

Irish Independent

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